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Janelia Smart Cage

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Janelia Smart Cage

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A system for automated training of head-restrained mice in their home cage

Head-fixed behavioral experiments in non-human primates, and more recently, rodents have been the gold standard in exploring the dynamics of the mammalian brain. The combination of precise stimulus control, monitoring of motor output, and neurophysiology over large numbers of trials is the foundation on which many conceptually rich and quantitative studies of the neural basis of sensation, cognition, and movement have been built. However, head-fixation and behavioral shaping requires the presence of an expert trainer. This process is time-consuming and difficult to document. Furthermore, training procedures across trainers and labs can lead animals to develop different strategies to solve the same task.

Janelia researchers developed the Janelia Smart Cage for voluntary head-fixation and automated behavioral training.

Download the Smart Cage Poster.


  • The Janelia Smart Cage is based on commodity hardware, and 3D printed parts. As a result, the device can be easily replicated and modified. The total cost per cage is approximately $1,000 (excluding BPod and computers).
  • Head-restrained or head-fixed mice learn the auditory delayed-response task, similar to manual training by experts.
  • Head-fixation improved the rate of learning and performance.


The cage designs are available under an open-source license via the link at the right. 

Tech ID: 2021-023

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Michael Perham
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