The unit consists of an elevated platform with 16 equally spaced holes. Each hole is large enough for an animal to put its head fully into the hole without being able to pass completely through to the other side. Located under each hole is a small food/reward cup. Each cup is also provided with a removable screen. When the screen is placed over the cup, the animal is able to see and smell the food/reward in the cup but cannot retrieve the reward.
Light beam sensors are located between the platform and the food cups. These sensors register the specific hole the animal is investigating.Hole Poke monitoring requires 2 sets of Photo Beam Sensors. Additional sets of Photo Beam sensors can be added to record Open Field Activity.
In a typical experiment, the researcher would place a small food/reward pellet in each of the 16 cups. Cups designated, as target holes would be left uncovered. All other cups would be covered with screens. The animal is placed on the platform and allowed to investigate holes at will. As each hole is investigated, the system records the time, duration and location of the query. The subject animal’s efforts are rewarded only when it visits the target hole(s). The experiment can be made to terminate when the animal has visited one or all of the target holes or when a specified duration has elapsed. As the experiment is repeated a normal animal will show fewer mistakes (nose poke into holes covered with screens) and a shorter time to reach the target hole(s).