The mouse is an important model system for investigating the neural circuits mediating behavior. Because of advances in imaging and optogenetic methods, head-fixed mouse preparations provide an unparalleled opportunity to observe and control neural circuits. To investigate how neural circuits produce behavior, these methods need to be paired with equally well-controlled and monitored behavioral paradigms. Here, we introduce the choice ball, a response device that enables two-alternative forcedchoice (2AFC) tasks in head-fixed mice based on the readout of lateral paw movements. We demonstrate the advantages of the choice ball by training mice in the random-click task, a two-choice auditory discrimination behavior. For each trial, mice listened to binaural streams of Poisson-distributed clicks and were required to roll the choice ball laterally toward the side with the greater click rate. In this assay, mice performed hundreds of trials per session with accuracy ranging from 95% for easy stimuli (large interaural click-rate contrast) to near chance level for low-contrast stimuli. We also show, using the record of individual paw strokes, that mice often reverse decisions they have already initiated and that decision reversals correlate with improved performance. The choice ball enables head-fixed 2AFC paradigms, facilitating the circuit-level analysis of sensory processing, decision making, and motor control in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3416-3423
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2012


  • Auditory discrimination
  • Head-fixed behavior
  • Head-fixed mouse
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction- time
  • Two-alternative forced-choice


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