One of the most effective ways to study neuroscience is experimentation on the brains of small animals, such as mice. Gene mutations in mice lead to studies which link genetics and behavior. Further, they shed light on the underlying causes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy. Currently, there exist stereotaxic devices that can move a probe or other surgical instruments to a specific point in space within a mouse’s brain to perform such experimentation. However, these existing instruments rarely account for small orientation changes of the mouse’s skull, and as a result, operators of these devices must spend time probing inside the animal’s brain to properly orient themselves. This calibration takes time and lacks precision, both areas where we seek improvement.

Our team presents a new stereotaxic instrument capable of scanning the exterior of a mouse’s skull, creating a visualization of the skull’s orientation, and then carrying out computer-inputted commands to perform surgical procedures on the brain with micron-precision. The device consists of a three-axis motor-controlled translation stage capable of holding a probe or surface profilometer as well as accompanying software to translate profilometer data into a 3D model of the mouse’s skull. With our value added automation technology, we hope to compete with similar devices used in brain research on small animals.

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