SLEAP: Multi-animal pose tracking


The desire to understand how the brain generates and patterns behavior has driven rapid methodological innovation to quantify and model natural animal behavior. This has led to important advances in deep learning-based markerless pose estimation that have been enabled in part by the success of deep learning for computer vision applications. Here we present SLEAP (Social LEAP Estimates Animal Poses), a framework for multi-animal pose tracking via deep learning. This system is capable of simultaneously tracking any number of animals during social interactions and across a variety of experimental conditions. SLEAP implements several complementary approaches for dealing with the problems inherent in moving from single- to multi-animal pose tracking, including configurable neural network architectures, inference techniques, and tracking algorithms, enabling easy specialization and tuning for particular experimental conditions or performance requirements. We report results on multiple datasets of socially interacting animals (flies, bees, and mice) and describe how dataset-specific properties can be leveraged to determine the best configuration of SLEAP models. Using a high accuracy model (<2.8 px error on 95% of points), we were able to track two animals from full size 1024 x 1024 pixel frames at up to 320 FPS. The SLEAP framework comes with a sophisticated graphical user interface, multi-platform support, Colab-based GPU-free training and inference, and complete tutorials available, in addition to the datasets, at ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.