Training rats to search and alert on contraband odors

This paper describes a series of behavioral experiments that were conducted to test a new concept using rats to detect contraband odors, such as explosives, drugs, or prohibited foodstuffs. Under this concept, the trained alerting behavior of rats is remotely monitored by humans and/or computers to determine when the animals detect a scent of interest (e.g. contraband) during their search behavior. The rats alert on a scent by rearing on their hind legs, which is detected by computer. Our experimental measures include performance (hit rate and false alarm rate) and search effectiveness (number of cups visited and number of unique cups visited) for three to six rats, detecting a variety of odors including explosive, cocaine, and bleach scents. Their performance was measured both with and without distractor scents (almond extract and motor oil) present. Results of the experiments showed good olfactory performance in the laboratory setting.

Main Author: Otto, James
Other Authors: Brown, Michael, Long, William
Language: English
Published: 2002
Online Access: http://ezproxy.villanova.edu/login?url=https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:175109