Systems and Devices for Training and Imaging an Awake Test Animal

Typical MRI imaging sessions can last over 45 minutes and depend on the subject remaining still during the procedure for accurate imaging. In particular, animals being imaged, such as rodents (rats) in an awakened state, are not readily compliant with the restricted movement required when being imaged. Current techniques for imaging awake animals focus on training them with full body restraints and head fixation using a bite bar and/or ear bars. Physically restraining the animal can induce stress, thereby resulting in unavoidable movement of the stressed animal and likely inaccurate imaging.

Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) developed an invention that permits prolonged imaging of awake rodents (no anesthesia needed) with minimal confinement and reduces stress. The invention is an apparatus and training system for rodents to maintain its head substantially motionless during an imaging (e.g. MRI) procedure. The system includes a frame defining an enclosure for enclosing an animal therein during the imaging procedure. The system has a head post attached to the head of the animal and a treadmill having a plurality of rollers that the animal walks on such that one or more of the wheels rotate when the animal is in walking motion and stop rotating when the animal is substantially motionless. This arrangement trains the animal to remain substantially motionless when disposed within an imaging apparatus for more accurate imaging and fewer artifacts.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Imaging awake rodents
  • Imaging pharmacological agent distribution in rodents
  • Monitoring the therapeutic effects of a pharmacological agent
  • Imaging while an animal is awake (no anesthesia needed)
  • Less stress-inducing imaging and minimal confinement

Development Stage:


Hanbing Lu (NIDA)  ➽ more inventions...

Elliot Stein (NIDA)  ➽ more inventions...

Yihong Yang ()  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
US Application No. 14/589,725

Collaboration Opportunity:

Licensing only

Licensing Contact:
John Hewes, Ph.D.
Phone: 240-276-5515

OTT Reference No: E-043-2015
Updated: May 30, 2018