An open source platform for presenting dynamic visual stimuli
Operant behavior procedures often rely on visual stimuli to cue the initiation or secession of a response, and to provide a means for discriminating between two or more simultaneously available responses. While primate and human studies typically use Liquid-Crystal Display (LCD) or Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) monitors and touch screens, rodent studies use a variety of methods to present visual cues ranging from traditional incandescent light bulbs, single LEDs, and, more recently, touch screen monitors. Commercially available systems for visual stimulus presentation are costly, challenging to customize, and are typically closed source. We developed an open-source, highly-modifiable visual stimulus presentation platform that can be combined with a 3D-printed operant response device. The device uses an 8 × 8 matrix of LEDs, and can be expanded to control much larger LED matrices. Implementing the platform is low-cost (,$70 USD per device in the year 2020). Using the platform, we trained rats to make nosepoke responses and discriminate between two distinct visual cues in a location-independent manner. This visual stimulus presentation platform is a cost-effective way to implement complex visually-guided operant behavior, including the use of moving or dynamically changing visual stimuli.