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Manual Whisker Annotator (MWA): A Modular Open-Source Tool

Hewitt, B and Yap, MH and Grant, RA (2016) Manual Whisker Annotator (MWA): A Modular Open-Source Tool. Journal of Open Research Software, 4 (1). ISSN 2049-9647

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Abstract

Rodents are key to generating translational data for healthcare research. Behavioural analyses, in particular, are integral to the non-invasive monitoring of rodent health and welfare. Finding quantitative behavioural measures mitigates stress, allowing for the animal behave freely while also enabling the same animal to be studied over the time-course of its life. Locomotion and whisking are both such quantitative behavioural measures, and have been found to be significantly impacted in rodent models of neurodegenerative disease. While automatic trackers of whiskers and locomotion exist, a manual tracker is required to validate these approaches, and also to annotate complex videos where these automatic versions fail. Manually annotating whiskers for research purposes is a long and tedious task and current software does little to provide an intuitive and simple interface to carry out this task. This led to the creation of the Manual Whisker Annotator (MWA). MWA is an open source, portable whisker annotation tool developed for the Windows platform. Not only does MWA make the process much quicker, it also provides added statistical tools to analyse the data. MWA was developed in C# and WPF using the .NET framework, and could be used in any situation where annotating or tracking multiple targets is desired.

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