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Marsal, Maria, Jorba, Ignasi, Rebollo, Elena, Luque, Tomas, Navajas, Daniel, Martín-Blanco, Enrique, (2017). AFM and microrheology in the zebrafish embryo yolk cell Journal of Visualized Experiments Developmental Biology, (129), e56224

Elucidating the factors that direct the spatio-temporal organization of evolving tissues is one of the primary purposes in the study of development. Various propositions claim to have been important contributions to the understanding of the mechanical properties of cells and tissues in their spatiotemporal organization in different developmental and morphogenetic processes. However, due to the lack of reliable and accessible tools to measure material properties and tensional parameters in vivo, validating these hypotheses has been difficult. Here we present methods employing atomic force microscopy (AFM) and particle tracking with the aim of quantifying the mechanical properties of the intact zebrafish embryo yolk cell during epiboly. Epiboly is an early conserved developmental process whose study is facilitated by the transparency of the embryo. These methods are simple to implement, reliable, and widely applicable since they overcome intrusive interventions that could affect tissue mechanics. A simple strategy was applied for the mounting of specimens, AFM recording, and nanoparticle injections and tracking. This approach makes these methods easily adaptable to other developmental times or organisms.

Keywords: Developmental Biology, Zebrafish, Yolk, Atomic Force Microscopy, Cortical Tension, Microrheology, Nanoparticle tracking


Alsaleh, S. M., Aviles, A. I., Sobrevilla, P., Casals, A., Hahn, J. K., (2015). Automatic and robust single-camera specular highlight removal in cardiac images Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 675-678

In computer-assisted beating heart surgeries, accurate tracking of the heart's motion is of huge importance and there is a continuous need to eliminate any source of error that might disturb the tracking process. One source of error is the specular reflection that appears on the glossy surface of the heart. In this paper, we propose a robust solution for the detection and removal of specular highlights. A hybrid color attributes and wavelet based edge projection approach is applied to accurately identify the affected regions. These regions are then recovered using a dynamic search-based inpainting with adaptive windowing. Experimental results demonstrate the precision and efficiency of the proposed method. Moreover, it has a real-time performance and can be generalized to various other applications.

Keywords: Heart, Image color analysis, Image edge detection, Surgery, Tracking, Wavelet transforms


Mur, O., Frigola, M., Casals, A., (2015). Modelling daily actions through hand-based spatio-temporal features ICAR 2015 International Conference on Advanced Robotics , IEEE (Istanbul, Turkey) , 478-483

In this paper, we propose a new approach to domestic action recognition based on a set of features which describe the relation between poses and movements of both hands. These features represent a set of basic actions in a kitchen in terms of the mimics of the hand movements, without needing information of the objects present in the scene. They address specifically the intra-class dissimilarity problem, which occurs when the same action is performed in different ways. The goal is to create a generic methodology that enables a robotic assistant system to recognize actions related to daily life activities and then, be endowed with a proactive behavior. The proposed system uses depth and color data acquired from a Kinect-style sensor and a hand tracking system. We analyze the relevance of the proposed hand-based features using a state-space search approach. Finally, we show the effectiveness of our action recognition approach using our own dataset.

Keywords: Histograms, Joints, Robot sensing systems, Thumb, Tracking, Human activity recognition, Disable and elderly assistance


Eckelt, Kay, Masanas, Helena, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, P., (2014). Automated high-throughput measurement of body movements and cardiac activity of Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles Journal of Biological Methods , 1, (2), e9

Xenopus tadpoles are an emerging model for developmental, genetic and behavioral studies. A small size, optical accessibility of most of their organs, together with a close genetic and structural relationship to humans make them a convenient experimental model. However, there is only a limited toolset available to measure behavior and organ function of these animals at medium or high-throughput. Herein, we describe an imaging-based platform to quantify body and autonomic movements of Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles of advanced developmental stages. Animals alternate periods of quiescence and locomotor movements and display buccal pumping for oxygen uptake from water and rhythmic cardiac movements. We imaged up to 24 animals in parallel and automatically tracked and quantified their movements by using image analysis software. Animal trajectories, moved distances, activity time, buccal pumping rates and heart beat rates were calculated and used to characterize the effects of test compounds. We evaluated the effects of propranolol and atropine, observing a dose-dependent bradycardia and tachycardia, respectively. This imaging and analysis platform is a simple, cost-effective high-throughput in vivo assay system for genetic, toxicological or pharmacological characterizations.

Keywords: Xenopus tropicalis, Animal behavior, Cardiac imaging, Motion analysis, Animal tracking, Hhigh-throughput in vivo assay


Aviles, A. I., Marban, A., Sobrevilla, P., Fernandez, Josep, Casals, A., (2014). A recurrent neural network approach for 3D vision-based force estimation IPTA 2014 4th International Conference on Image Processing Theory, Tools and Applications (IPTA) , IEEE (Paris, France) , 1-6

Robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery has demonstrated its benefits in comparison with traditional procedures. However, one of the major drawbacks of current robotic system approaches is the lack of force feedback. Apart from space restrictions, the main problems of using force sensors are their high cost and the biocompatibility. In this work a proposal based on Vision Based Force Measurement is presented, in which the deformation mapping of the tissue is obtained using the `2−Regularized Optimization class, and the force is estimated via a recurrent neural network that has as inputs the kinematic variables and the deformation mapping. Moreover, the capability of RNN for predicting time series is used in order to deal with tool occlusions. The highlights of this proposal, according to the results, are: knowledge of material properties are not necessary, there is no need of adding extra sensors and a good trade-off between accuracy and efficiency has been achieved.

Keywords: Force estimation, Regularized optimization, Deformable tracking, Recurrent neural network


Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T., Vershure, P., Persaud, K., (2013). Biologically inspired large scale chemical sensor arrays and embedded data processing Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VI , SPIE Digital Library (Grenoble, France) 8763, 1-15

Biological olfaction outperforms chemical instrumentation in specificity, response time, detection limit, coding capacity, time stability, robustness, size, power consumption, and portability. This biological function provides outstanding performance due, to a large extent, to the unique architecture of the olfactory pathway, which combines a high degree of redundancy, an efficient combinatorial coding along with unmatched chemical information processing mechanisms. The last decade has witnessed important advances in the understanding of the computational primitives underlying the functioning of the olfactory system. EU Funded Project NEUROCHEM (Bio-ICT-FET- 216916) has developed novel computing paradigms and biologically motivated artefacts for chemical sensing taking inspiration from the biological olfactory pathway. To demonstrate this approach, a biomimetic demonstrator has been built featuring a large scale sensor array (65K elements) in conducting polymer technology mimicking the olfactory receptor neuron layer, and abstracted biomimetic algorithms have been implemented in an embedded system that interfaces the chemical sensors. The embedded system integrates computational models of the main anatomic building blocks in the olfactory pathway: The olfactory bulb, and olfactory cortex in vertebrates (alternatively, antennal lobe and mushroom bodies in the insect). For implementation in the embedded processor an abstraction phase has been carried out in which their processing capabilities are captured by algorithmic solutions. Finally, the algorithmic models are tested with an odour robot with navigation capabilities in mixed chemical plumes.

Keywords: Antennal lobes, Artificial olfaction, Computational neuroscience, Olfactory bulbs, Plume tracking, Abstracting, Actuators, Algorithms, Biomimetic processes, Chemical sensors, Conducting polymers, Data processing, Flavors, Odors, Robots, Smart sensors, Embedded systems


Kodippili, G. C., Spector, J., Kang, G. E., Liu, H., Wickrema, A., Ritchie, K., Low, P. S., (2010). Analysis of the kinetics of band 3 diffusion in human erythroblasts during assembly of the erythrocyte membrane skeleton British Journal of Haematology , 150, (5), 592-600

Summary During definitive erythropoiesis, erythroid precursors undergo differentiation through multiple nucleated states to an enucleated reticulocyte, which loses its residual RNA/organelles to become a mature erythrocyte. Over the course of these transformations, continuous changes in membrane proteins occur, including shifts in protein abundance, rates of expression, isoform prominence, states of phosphorylation, and stability. In an effort to understand when assembly of membrane proteins into an architecture characteristic of the mature erythrocyte occurs, we quantitated the lateral diffusion of the most abundant membrane protein, band 3 (AE1), during each stage of erythropoiesis using single particle tracking. Analysis of the lateral trajectories of individual band 3 molecules revealed a gradual reduction in mobility of the anion transporter as erythroblasts differentiated. Evidence for this progressive immobilization included a gradual decline in diffusion coefficients as determined at a video acquisition rate of 120 frames/s and a decrease in the percentage of compartment sizes >100 nm. Because complete acquisition of the properties of band 3 seen in mature erythrocytes is not observed until circulating erythrocytes are formed, we suggest that membrane maturation involves a gradual and cooperative assembly process that is not triggered by the synthesis of any single protein.

Keywords: Band 3 diffusion, Erythrocyte, Progenitor cells, Single particle tracking, Streptavidin quantum dot