Electronics for Neuroscience

Tethered or Unthethered?

Deuteron Technologies is dedicated to enabling experimentation with freely moving animals. Once an animal is released from all the cables that are usually used, its behavior is much more natural. It can move around in a larger space, even in an open field, and it can interact freely  with other animals. Some animals simply cannot be regarded as “behaving animals” as long as they are tethered.

In 2011, the first brain research faculty  to work with us asked us to make a programmable stimulator for untethered rats. They wanted the rats to move freely in a space measuring hundreds of meters.   Our first wireless neural loggers went airborne on the heads of freely flying fruit bats in 2013. Since then we have supplied neural loggers to one university that will soon connect them to freely swimming fish.  We hope to help researchers working with birds as well.

The more conventional indoor laboratories working with rats and mice also can benefit  from removing the tethers. It becomes straightforward to construct mazes that include multiple rooms, obstacles like pipes and ladders, and toys like roller wheels. Researchers of social neuroscience and animal communication can now simultaneously record the brain activity of multiple animals interacting with each other.

Tethered systems are necessarily more costly. Commutator systems that are often used to stop tethers from twisting add significantly to the cost of every setup.

Rodents love to chew. They will chew their tethers if they ever get a chance. If they do not have tethers, they cannot chew them.