Trialing a Semi-Automated Line Cage for Scent Detection by African Pouched Rats

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Abstract

In this study, we trialed the use of a semiautomated line cage with African pouched rats for scent-detection tasks. The apparatus was a 2100 × 410 × 520-mm cage with 10 wells in the floor, under which samples were loaded. A nose-poke response was recorded by an infrared beam. Breaking this beam for a predetermined duration over a target sample triggered automatic delivery of a food pellet. We used a library of scents commonly used in the fragrance industry as stimuli. Ten rats were trained to discriminate a target from 9 other scents, and demonstrated a mean sensitivity of 94.23% and specificity of 95.1% at the conclusion of training. The value of measuring subthreshold responses and the importance of conducting research with controlled samples is discussed, as is the potential application of this technology to other scent-detection problems.

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