Dye-enhanced visualization of rat whiskers for behavioral studies

TitleDye-enhanced visualization of rat whiskers for behavioral studies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRigosa J, Lucantonio A, Noselli G, Fassihi A, Zorzin E, Manzino F, Pulecchi F, Diamond ME
Keywordsbehavioral studies, dye-enhanced visualization, rat whiskers

Visualization and tracking of the facial whiskers is required in an increasing number of rodent studies. Though many approaches have been employed, only high-speed videography has proven adequate for measuring whisker motion and deformation during interaction with an object. However, whisker visualization and tracking is challenging for multiple reasons, primary among them the low contrast of the whisker against its background. Here we demonstrate a fluorescent dye method suitable for visualization of one or more rat whiskers. The process makes the dyed whisker(s) easily visible against a dark background. The coloring does not influence the behavioral performance of rats trained on a vibrissal vibrotactile discrimination task, nor does it affect the whiskers’ mechanical properties.