Voluntary Head Restraint and Automated In Vivo Imaging System

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Voluntary Head Restraint and Automated in vivo Imaging System

Princeton Docket #13-2837-1


Researchers at Department of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, have developed a rat operated kinematic restraint clamp and automated in vivo imaging system.


In neurosciences, measurement of neural activity in animals by imaging techniques is an essential component for scientific research and drug development.  A major obstacle for in vivo imaging in awake animals is the need to hold the head stationary imaging apparatus during imaging.  This invention overcomes the obstacle by training rats to operate a mechanical head restraint system that both immobilizes the head and move the head to a specified location automatically.  Since the device is under the control of the animals, the rat does not experience the stress normally associated with forced head restraint, allowing imaging of the brain under normal physiological conditions.  Moreover, since this system is automated, it is easily adapted to high-throughput systems, such as drug screens or training in behavioral tasks that require higher cognitive functions in a large number of animals.


This device is the first kinematic registration system for micron precision head registration to be used in un-anesthetized animals. It has the stress-free feature of a switch triggered pneumatic clamp for voluntary head restraint/release that can completely replace the current employed stress-induced forced head restraint system. An automated imaging fluid delivery and removal system replaces manual addition and removal of the immersion fluid.




  • Novel Apparatus for Neurosciences Research.
  • Novel Apparatus for animal drug screening processes.



  • Automated Device.
  • Minimized stress to animals.
  • Can be easily integrated into pre-existing operant conditioning chambers.
  • Can be integrated into MRI machines.


The Faculty Inventor


David Tank is the Henry L. Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology, Professor of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and Co-Director of Princeton Neuroscience Institute. The area of Tank Laboratory is Computational and Systems Neuroscience. One of the major focuses of Tank Laboratory to develop methodologies and instrumentation that can provide measurements of chemical and electrical dynamics of neurons in vivo.



Intellectual Property & Development status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.




Laurie Tzodikov
Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

(609) 258-7256  tzodikov@princeton.edu

Wenting Luo

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing 

(609) 258-5579  wluo@princeton.edu

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Laurie Tzodikov
Licensing Associates
Princeton University
David Tank
Benjamin Scott
Carlos Brody
drug discovery
life science research tools