Assessing REM sleep in mice using video data

Blakeley B. McShane, Raymond J. Galante, Michael Biber, Shane T. Jensen, Abraham J. Wyner, Allan I. Pack*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Assessment of sleep and its substages in mice currently requires implantation of chronic electrodes for measurement of electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyogram (EMG). This is not ideal for high-throughput screening. To address this deficiency, we present a novel method based on digital video analysis. This methodology extends previous approaches that estimate sleep and wakefulness without EEG/EMG in order to now discriminate rapid eye movement (REM) from non-REM (NREM) sleep. Design: Studies were conducted in 8 male C57BL/6J mice. EEG/EMG were recorded for 24 hours and manually scored in 10-second epochs. Mouse behavior was continuously recorded by digital video at 10 frames/second. Six variables were extracted from the video for each 10-second epoch (i.e., intraepoch mean of velocity, aspect ratio, and area of the mouse and intraepoch standard deviation of the same variables) and used as inputs for our model. Measurements and Results: We focus on estimating features of REM (i.e., time spent in REM, number of bouts, and median bout length) as well as time spent in NREM and WAKE. We also consider the model's epoch-by-epoch scoring performance relative to several alternative approaches. Our model provides good estimates of these features across the day both when averaged across mice and in individual mice, but the epoch-by-epoch agreement is not as good. Conclusions: There are subtle changes in the area and shape (i.e., aspect ratio) of the mouse as it transitions from NREM to REM, likely due to the atonia of REM, thus allowing our methodology to discriminate these two states. Although REM is relatively rare, our methodology can detect it and assess the amount of REM sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • High-throughput phenotyping
  • Inbred mouse strains
  • Mouse sleep
  • REM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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