Contact person: Hana Brinkeová
The biophysical behavioural laboratory houses two electromagnetic (EMG) coils, signal amplifiers, and recording equipment for conducting magnetoreception experiments in a highly controlled environment. It is possible to set all important variables here, including the colour and intensity of light, as well as the strength, direction, and density of EMG fields.
In each of the two test rooms, animals are exposed to an artificial controlled EMG field created by a coil under a box or arena in which they can move freely. The table below the arena also includes spaces for installing bar magnets. A high-definition video camera is connected to a computer using analysis software and a powerful database capable of storing terabytes of data. The walls and doors of the laboratory and test room are fully protected from noise and strong magnetic fields generated by electronic devices in the building. But not only that – the special material used for insulation also removes radio waves from mobile phones, Wi-Fi, etc., which are known to interfere with certain types of magnetoreceptive processes. The animals in the test rooms are fully isolated from both the experimenter and the external environment, which allows full control of the experimental conditions crucial for extra sensitive magnetoreceptive responses.
A sophisticated system of signal amplifiers and two powerful computers are located in the technical room, where scientists can monitor the progress of the test without affecting and disturbing the test subjects.
An example of experiments that can be performed in an EMG coil is the magnetic alignment test. It is known that, under calm conditions, animals tend to spontaneously align their bodies along the north-south axis of the Earth’s magnetic field. We can place the animal in the arena inside the coil, set the desired parameters (strength, direction, etc. of the EMG field) and then record the exact position of the animal's body and its exact angle relative to the axis of the magnetic field.
Animals used in experiments should be housed in safety and comfort between the experiments. For this purpose, an animal laboratory is set up next to the testing laboratory. It consists of an aquarium room for breeding fish and amphibians as well as a room with cages and plastic boxes for breeding rabbits, guinea pigs, and small rodents. All components in the rooms are made of non-magnetic material or protected against magnetic field. The walls of the animal laboratory are also shielded to eliminate any source of disturbance that could affect the animals’ controlled behaviour. The systems for animals’ basic living needs are partly controlled electronically.