Imaging and Recording From Head Fixed Rodents on a Spherical Treadmill

Web Published:

Princeton University Invention # 07-2353


            Researchers in the Department of Neuroscience, Princeton University have developed a unique apparatus which allows for micron-scale optical recording, imaging and stimulation of neural activity of awake and behaving rodents while they are head fixed. For several important questions in neuroscience, it is important to relate animal behavior to cellular processes. This is difficult because the best tools to measure and stimulate neural processes require single cell resolution, and this requires that the tissue be stable to within a few microns. Most of those experiments are done in  brain slices, or at best in anesthetized animals where there is minimal motion artifacts. However, functions such as memory formation or retention do not work under anesthesia, and so have not yet been studied in depth with those techniques. This invention greatly expands the type of experiments possible because it allows imaging and stimulating a single neuron or a population of neurons while the animal is awake and behaving. The method of restraint allows for greater tissue stabilization and very likely causes much less stress than existing restraint techniques. It allows imaging studies in dendrites and spines that are too small to record from electrodes directly. This device works well with rodents, especially mice, the mammal most easily manipulated genetically. Due to the large variety of transgenic lines, mice are a very promising model system for neuroscience. Some of these lines have fluorescently labeled neurons whose activity can be imaged directly during behavior. Others can be used to relate gene function to the neural mechanisms and to behavior.


Our device and process measure and stimulate neural activity optically and measure activity with extra-cellular electrodes while the animal is awake and behaving, which allows for the  imaging and electrical recording from rodents in the laboratory while they are alert, awake and behaving. Our invention allows for the external control of the visual, vestibular and other sensory cues to the animal providing much greater control of cues compared with freely behaving experiments.


The immediate application for this invention is to create a ¿virtual reality¿, the construction of a controlled enviroment under which animal neural activity and behavoir are studied. This device expands imaging experiments to study behavoir, leanring and memory.



Princeton is currently seeking industrial collaborators for the further development and commercialization of this technology.


For more information on Princeton University invention # 07-2353 pleases contact:


                        Laurie Tzodikov

                        Office of Technology Licensing and Intellectual Property

                        Princeton University

                        4 New South Building

                        Princeton, NJ 08544-0036

                        (609) 258-7256

                        (609) 258-1159 fax


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Laurie Tzodikov
Licensing Associates
Princeton University
Anton Khabbaz
Daniel Dombeck
Forrest Collman
David Tank