NeuBtracker-imaging neurobehavioral dynamics in freely behaving fish

Journal: Nature Methods

Published: 2017-10-02

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.4459

Affiliations: 7

Authors: 16

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Research Highlight

What do fish think about while they swim?

© isoft/E+/Getty

© isoft/E+/Getty

A new type of microscope allows scientists to observe neuronal activity in the developing brains of zebrafish without disturbing their natural behaviour.

The NeuBtracker, developed by Technical University of Munich (TUM) researchers and others from Germany, is equipped with two cameras, one for tracking the swimming patterns of zebrafish larvae and the other for recording fluorescence images in the fishes’ translucent heads.

By exposing fish to compounds that stimulate the brain and the olfactory system, the authors showcased the microscope’s potential for drug screening, metabolism research and behavioural studies, among other applications.

Zebrafish researchers everywhere can now build NeuBtrackers of their own, thanks to the authors making their microscope design and software open-source. The platform is described in Nature Methods and at

Supported content

  1. Nature Methods 14, 1079–1082 (2017). doi: 10.1038/nmeth.4459
Institutions Share
Institute for Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI), Germany 0.29
Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany 0.25
Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), Germany 0.23
TUM Department of Nuclear Medicine, Germany 0.17
Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal 0.06