TEATIME was founded by 58 researchers in 23 countries, but the early goals are to expand this to a network of 500 behavioural research scientists, manufacturers of equipment, bioinformaticians and experts in Machine Learning to form a collaborative, multidisciplinary consortium.

The ultimate goal of the consortium is to be able to describe animal behaviours with a minimum impact on the animals, by monitoring them in the home-cages where they live, enabling them to exhibit routine behaviours in a familiar environment. In contrast, short-term testing in unfamiliar environments can alter or mask behaviours and cause variability depending on the surroundings they are moved to.

Together the consortium will:

  • Investigate ways to develop the use of 24/7 monitoring using methods, including videos and tracking of small sensor-implanted animals in their home-cages, to describe their behaviour,
  • Address issues such as the diversity of equipment available, complementarity of protocols and common formats for analysis and presentation of results to enable results to be more cross-comparable,
  • Assess current needs in regard to development of new bioinformatics tools, such as:
    • Ontologies (a form of controlled vocabulary) to describe behaviours
    • Analysis of large volumes of data
    • Tools such as Machine Learning to automatically describe or quantify behaviours to reduce the need for lengthy time spent watching videos.

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