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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Herzl 229, Rehovot 7610001, Israel
Phone: +972-(0)8-9489119;
Fax: +972-(0)8-9465763;
Yael Lewitus, Department's Secretary
e-mail: yaellew@savion.huji.ac.il

Publications

2021
Forkosh, O. Animal behavior and animal personality from a non-human perspective: Getting help from the machine. PATTERNS 2021, 2.Abstract
We can now track the position of every fly's leg or immerse a tiny fish inside a virtual world by monitoring its gaze in real time. Yet capturing animals' posture or gaze is not like understanding their behavior. Instead, behaviors are still often interpreted by human observers in an anthropomorphic manner. Even newer tools that automatically classify behaviors rely on human observers for the choice of behaviors. In this perspective, we suggest a roadmap toward a ``human-free'' interpretation of behavior. We present several recent advances, including our recent work on animal personalities. Personality both underlies behavioral differences among individuals and is consistent over time. A mathematical formulation of this idea has allowed us to measure mouse traits objectively, map behaviors across species (humans included), and explore the biological basis of behavior. Our goal is to enable ``machine translation'' of raw movement data into intelligible human concepts en route to improving our understanding of animals and people.
2019
Forkosh, O. ; Karamihalev, S. ; Roeh, S. ; Alon, U. ; Anpilov, S. ; Touma, C. ; Nussbaumer, M. ; Flachskamm, C. ; Kaplick, P. M. ; Shemesh, Y. ; et al. Identity domains capture individual differences from across the behavioral repertoire. Nature Neuroscience 2019, 22, 2023-2028. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Personality traits can offer considerable insight into the biological basis of individual differences. However, existing approaches toward understanding personality across species rely on subjective criteria and limited sets of behavioral readouts, which result in noisy and often inconsistent outcomes. Here we introduce a mathematical framework for describing individual differences along dimensions with maximum consistency and discriminative power. We validate this framework in mice, using data from a system for high-throughput longitudinal monitoring of group-housed male mice that yields a variety of readouts from across the behavioral repertoire of individual animals. We demonstrate a set of stable traits that capture variability in behavior and gene expression in the brain, allowing for better-informed mechanistic investigations into the biology of individual differences. © 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.
2018
Forkosh, O. ; Karamihalev, S. ; Roeh, S. ; Engel, M. ; Alon, U. ; Anpilov, S. ; Nussbaumer, M. ; Flachskamm, C. ; Kaplick, P. ; Shemesh, Y. ; et al. Identity domains in complex behavior: Toward a biology of personality. bioRxiv 2018, 395111. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Personality traits offer considerable insight into the biological basis of individual differences. However, existing approaches toward understanding personality across species rely on subjective criteria and limited sets of behavioral readouts, resulting in noisy and often inconsistent outcomes. Here, we introduce a mathematical framework for studying individual differences along dimensions with maximum consistency and discriminative power. We validate this framework in mice, using data from a system for high-throughput longitudinal monitoring of group-housed mice that yields a variety of readouts from all across an individual’s behavioral repertoire. We describe a set of stable traits that capture variability in behavior and gene expression in the brain, allowing for better informed mechanistic investigations into the biology of individual differences.