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BEhavioral tAsk Description Language

A Universal Framework for Describing Behavioral Tasks

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Technological advances in neuroscience have dramatically increased the possibilities for monitoring, quantifying, and manipulating brain activity during behavior. In contrast, efforts to describe behavior have lagged behind. One reason for this is that there is no general formal framework to design or describe behavioral tasks, which are typically performed using specialized and often ad hoc hardware and software systems. The lack of universal behavioral task descriptions makes it challenging to communicate, share, publish, and reuse behavioral tasks.


We propose BEADL (BEhavioral tAsk Description Language) to abstract and standardize behavioral task descriptions on two layers. A graphical layer specifies elements to describe behavioral tasks as a state machine in a formal flow diagram and how the task controlling system interacts with a subject. This graphical layer has been designed to be easy to understand while retaining all aspects of the behavioral task. The second layer is a corresponding, XML-based description of the task. This layer forms the rigid, yet extensible foundation of BEADL and hides hardware implementation related details form the graphical representation. A BEADL-specific extension for the Neurodata Without Borders (NWB) data standard defines how the behavioral outcomes of a task are stored in NWB including the corresponding BEADL task description.



NIH RF1MH120034
NeuroNex NSF 2118583

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