Machine Learning for Social Behavior Analysis

Genes, Brain, and Behavior Meeting 2021 (IBANGS)


May 11, 2021

11am - 4pm EASTERN TIME

Instructors: Vivek Kumar, Sam Golden

Helpers: Glen Beane, Vivek Kohar, Yehya Barakat, Tony Gallo, Jia Choong, Simon Nilsson, Nastacia Goodwin

General Information

We are in the midst of a revolution in animal behavioral analysis that is being led by application of machine learning. This workshop will focus on the analysis of social behaviors using machine learning, and will consist of hybrid lecture and lab components. Drs. Golden and Kumar will present the principles of behavior annotation and introduce two behavior annotation and classification platforms that their lab has been developing. The anticipated result of the workshop is familiarity with the principles of behavior annotation and the ability to use two behavior annotation platforms. One of the goals of the workshop is to build a community of behaviorists and computational biologists who can support each other in this rapidly evolving field.

No computational experience is needed and some experience with behavior analysis is suggested.

Where: This training will take place online. The instructors will provide you with the information you will need to connect to this meeting.

When: May 11, 2021. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Participants must have access to a computer with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on.

Accessibility: We are dedicated to providing a positive and accessible learning environment for all. Please notify the instructors in advance of the workshop if you require any accommodations or if there is anything we can do to make this workshop more accessible to you.

Contact: Please email for more information.

Who can attend?: This workshop is open to 2021 IBANGS Meeting participants who have registered separately for this training.


Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


To get the most from this training, please read the following two Nature Methods articles before the workshop.

Machine learning: a primer

Classification evaluation

You might also want to read these additional articles to deepen your knowledge either before or after the training.


Classification and regression trees

Ensemble methods: bagging and random forests


Tuesday, May 11

Before Pre-workshop survey
11:00 Welcome and introductions
11:05 Machine Learning Fundamentals for Behavior Analysis and an introduction to JAX Automatic Behavior System (JABS) (Vivek Kumar)
11:50 SimBA - Supervised Machine Learning for the Unsupervised Behavioral Neuroscientist (Sam Golden)
12:35 Lunch break
13:35 SimBA Lab
14:35 JABS Lab (video and guidebook here)
15:35 Debrief
15:55 Post-workshop survey
16:00 END


To participate in a workshop, you will need internet access and an up-to-date web browser.

Microsoft Remote Desktop

Use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app to connect to a remote PC or virtual apps and desktops made available by your admin. The app helps you be productive no matter where you are. Please follow the instructions below for your operating system before arrival at the workshop. Instructors and helpers will not be able to install software on your computer because they don't have administrative rights, so please take care of any software installation beforehand. Thanks!

  1. Open the App Store and search for Microsoft Remote Desktop, or visit the Mac App Store online.
  2. Install Microsoft Remote Desktop and open it.
  3. Locate "Add PC". The PC name, user name, and password will be provided at the start of the workshop.
  1. Open the start menu and search for Remote Desktop Connection.
  2. Locate the “General” tab and "Computer". The computer name, user name, and password will be provided at the start of the workshop.

Install the videoconferencing client

If you haven't used Zoom before, go to the official website to download and install the Zoom client for your computer.

Set up your workspace

You will be learning by "coding along" with the Instructors. To do this, you will need to have both the window for the tool you will be learning about (Simba, JAX-ABA, your web browser, etc..) and the window for the Zoom video conference client open. In order to see both at once, we recommend using one of the following set up options:

This blog post includes detailed information on how to set up your screen to follow along during the workshop.