The Need for Speed in Rodent Locomotion Analyses
Locomotion analysis is now widely used across many animal species to understand the motor defects in disease, functional recovery following neural injury, and the effectiveness of various treatments. More recently, rodent locomotion analysis has become an increasingly popular method in a diverse range of research. Speed is an inseparable aspect of locomotion that is still not fully understood, and its effects are often not properly incorporated while analyzing data. In this hybrid manuscript, we accomplish three things: (1) review the interaction between speed and locomotion variables in rodent studies, (2) comprehensively analyze the relationship between speed and 162 locomotion variables in a group of 16 wild‐type mice using the CatWalk gait analysis system, and (3) develop and test a statistical method in which locomotion variables are analyzed and reported in the context of speed. Notable results include the following: (1) over 90% of variables, reported by CatWalk, were dependent on speed with an average R 2 value of 0.624, (2) most variables were related to speed in a nonlinear manner, (3) current methods of controlling for speed are insufficient, and (4) the linear mixed model is an appropriate and effective statistical method for locomotion analyses that is inclusive of speed‐dependent relationships. Given the pervasive dependency of locomotion variables on speed, we maintain that valid conclusions from locomotion analyses cannot be made unless they are analyzed and reported within the context of speed. Anat Rec, 297:1839–1864, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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