Automated Tube Test ATT

ATT, The Automated Tube Test

Tube test: social hierarchy and (dys)function

Schizophrenia, dementia, major depression, anxiety disorders, and autistic spectrum disorders – all psychiatric disorders that have been identified as adversely influencing social functioning. The tube test has been developed to measure dominance relationships within social hierarchies.

The tube test has been extensively parameterized since its first description in 1961 (Lindzey et. al, Nature). Initially, mice are given non-social habituation sessions in which they become familiar with entering the tube and reaching the goal box. Subsequently, social hierarchies are established through structured tournaments of dyadic matches. In any given match, two mice are simultaneously placed in a starting box located on opposite ends of the tube. Once they are both located within the central zone of the tube, the center door opens, and the match begins. A winner is determined when both mice are present simultaneously at one of the starting boxes. In an all-versus-all design, each mouse is tested against all other mice. The frequency of winning matches determines each mouse’s position within the social hierarchy of the group.

Automated Tube Test: hardware-software combination

att The Automated Tube Test consists of software and hardware – together fully automating the validated test procedures. The hardware component consists of a fully symmetrical fiberglass tube with starting boxes on both ends. The diameter of the tube is such that mice move comfortably through, but is too narrow to allow mice to pass each other. Computer automated transparent doors separate the boxes from the tube and an opaque center door determined the onset of each match. The position of each of the doors is controlled independently by the computer interface, based on the location of the mice and the user-specified match conditions. Optionally, an air valve provides a brief pulse of pressured air to motivate animals to leave the starting box. Location of the mice is monitored continuously by infrared (IR) LED sensors and recorded for detailed match-specific spatiotemporal analysis.

The user-friendly software (Tube Assistant) provides extensive control of the hardware components (doors, air valves, LEDs), allowing collection and analysis of all data events. Outocmes measures are highly automated, and flexibly specified by individual users. The identities and performances of all mice within every group is fully tracked and stored.

Reliable, reproducible, and objective data

project Since the hardware-software combination is fully automated, inter-experimenter variability is substantially reduced, allowing highly reliable and objective results. The IR-based tracking system offers automated tracking of the mice without any potential influences of lighting conditions on the tracking performance of the system.

High-throughput and robust

The Automated Tube Test allows for high-throughput measurement of social dominance, with only limited human intervention. Furthermore, the dimensions of the tube also serve limit aggressive behavior during matches, allowing unconfounded measurement of social dominance.

Guidance in experiment set-up and data analysis

The user-friendly Tube Assistant software provides an easy and efficient platform to design experiments and automated data collection. Extensive options for data analysis are provided by the software and can be easily exported to your favorite statistical analysis software package.


Operating the Automated Tube Test is conveniently implemented in standard mouse behavioral laboratories, with minimal setup time.

Technical specifications


Dimensions (LxW in mm)
  • Tube
  • Start boxes
  • Total apparatus

470 x 25
120 x 80
770 x 200
Weight (kg) 7.5
Material tube, start boxes, and doors Transparent fiberglass
  • 4 mm tube push-in fitting
  • USB portal
  • Power socket


Power requirement (Volt-DC & Amp) 12 & 2.08
  • Input (Volt-AC)
  • Output (Volt-DC)
  • AC inlet

IEC 320-C8, 2 pole
Pressure air valves (Bar) 8 (max)