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Behavioral Control System Box

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Laboratory Tools
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Behavioral Control System Box

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About the Innovation

Observing neural activity during behavior has become an important tool in understanding neural function. Behavior reflects nervous system activity and is dependent on multiple factors, including external stimuli, experience, neuronal structure, and changes in the internal milieu of the animal. Alterations at the cellular or functional level can profoundly alter basal and evoked activity. The development of behavioral assays, which are used to study the relationship of behavior to the environment or an experimental condition, offer researchers simple, sensitive, and powerful tools to interrogate neuronal function.

The Behavioral Control System is designed to work with behavioral assay rigs that require data acquisition and digital processing. The developed system has the capability to drive switches and solenoids as well as control and monitor beam breaks. It also has a pulse generator with analog output levels. The main processing controller is an Arduino Mega board with an additional microcontroller with a Teensy breakout board. The BNC input/output connectors have different options to select depending on research needs (analog input/output, digital input/output, etc.).  Furthermore, there is an option available for visual output in the form of an LCD screen. The system is powered by a 9–12V DC power source.


  • Simple to program and use due to the Arduino programming environment
  • Allows faster, real-time data output than other control systems
  • Can help ensure the sensitivity of behavioral assays
  • Configurable for 8 digital inputs/outputs, 8 analog outputs, 8 analog inputs, 8 beam-break circuits, 8 solenoid drivers, 4 interrupts for the microcontroller, and 4 pulse generator outputs
  • Configurable per user preference using jumpers between contact headers


  • Neuroscience research
  • Assays that require deterministic control over events


Free to make for Non-Profit Research by downloading designs at Flintbox link to the right.

Rights and designs available for Commercial License.

For inquiries, please reference:

Janelia 2012-021

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Works with behavioral assay rigs that require data acquisition and digital processing. Simple, sensitive, powerful.
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Michael Perham
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