Spatial orientation disorders constitute a major problem in aged subjects. Being able to dissociate the different cognitive strategies used for spatial navigation might help in the early detection of age-related brain dysfunctions.
Spatial navigation calls upon mnemonic capabilities (e.g. remembering the location of a rewarding site) as well as adaptive motor control (e.g. fine tuning of the trajectory according to the ongoing sensory context).
To study this complex process by means of behavioral measurements it is necessary to quantify a large set of meaningful parameters on multiple time scales (from milliseconds to several minutes), and to compare them across different paradigms. Moreover, the issue of automating the behavioral analysis is critical to cope with the consequent computational load and the sophistication of the measurements.
The solution is an automated protocol for quantitative analysis of spatial memory, learning and decision making in normal and pathological states. It relies on the analysis of human navigation behavior in a virtual Starmaze environment.
- Starmaze task adapted to humans using virtual reality
- Extraction of information (aisles and areas visited) and calculation of scores from recorded trajectories
- Concatenation of the results in a table
- Configurations of the analysis by protocol (number of subjects, type and number of tests, environmental dimensions, number and size of areas of interest)
- Graphical user interface
- Behavioral research
- Clinical evaluation of Memory
- Diagnosis of spatio-temporal cognitive disorders
- Extensive characterization of trajectories over time, from exploratory behavior to goal-oriented navigation with decision points
- Wide range of parameters
- New set of specific measurements assessing performances in multiple intersection mazes and allowing navigation strategies to be discriminated (e.g. in the Starmaze).
- Easy use and opportunities of extension and customization
- Portability of the software to any type of maze and environment : possible exploitation far beyond the field of spatial navigation.
- The Starmaze protocol has been used for differential diagnosis of Alzheimer patients and characterization of spatial and temporal memory brain networks. The associated software has been developed to automatically extract individual and/or pathology-specific behavioral biomarker of cognitive functions.