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Improving localization using Buresova's on-demand platform.


Over 20 years ago Buresova discovered that it was possible to significantly improved localization of rats by training with a collapsible and previously hidden platform that emerges when the rat passes over it. Variations on this have become known as the Atlantis platform and it now forms a key way of differentiating or sharpening results where there experimenter is worried that the changes or effects between control and experimental groups might be small. This is extremely valuable in cases where identifying the differences between control and test animals in crucial and worth a small additional investment. Things to check for in the modern Atlantis platform include (1) silent operation (which is often not the case with pump driven pneumatic ones - which give a directional auditory cue from the pump motor, (2) complete electrical isolation from the mains (which is essential given that the experimenter is operating in water) and (3) the availability of Atlantis arrays so that the platform does not have to be repositioned between trials, but instead the array comprises four different platforms any one of which can be operated separately by the controller. The best systems today are the Neodymium Iron Boron actuators (AKA "Neo" or NdFeB) which actually hold the platform in place with no current flow and only need a current pulse of a few milliseconds to release. These are safer, more quiet and much faster in operation and represent a really worthwhile move forward from systems of five years ago or more.

Rats trained with the Atlantis platform show improved spatial localization of search
Figure from Spooner et al 1995


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