A novel computerized system for analyzing motor and social behavior in groups of animals

Jean Jacques Vatine, Alexander Ratner, Michael Dvorkin, Ze'Ev Seltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present here the VMB Tracking System, a novel method for tracking locomotor activity, posture, thigmotactic scanning behavior and social interactions of up to eight animals at a time, at a high resolution (up to ±0.1 mm). We used a commercially available computerized system that is considerably cheaper than other available methods. This system utilizes a basic personal computer controlling three transponders ('towers') fixed in space above the tested area, where animals as small as rats stroll freely in their normal habitat or in an experimental arena. Each tower emits infra-red (IR) pulses to a transponder ('button') adhered to a plastic mount glued to a shaved area of skin on the animal's back. When the button detects the IR pulses it responds with a button-specific ultrasonic signal that is fed back to the towers. The 3D location of the buttons is calculated by triangulation. Movement parameters of each button, such as displacement trajectory, time, speed and acceleration, can be displayed on-line and stored for off-line analysis. This system can be used to track animals in any lighting conditions, and to assess drug effects on the CNS, neuromuscular junction or muscle. As an example we demonstrate the ataxic effects of pentobarbital in rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D movements
  • Ataxic drugs
  • Computerized tracking
  • Motor behavior
  • Pentobarbital
  • Social behavior
  • Walking distance


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