Measuring zebrafish turning rate

Violet Mwaffo, Sachit Butail, Mario Di Bernardo, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zebrafish is becoming a popular animal model in preclinical research, and zebrafish turning rate has been proposed for the analysis of activity in several domains. The turning rate is often estimated from the trajectory of the fish centroid that is output by commercial or custom-made target tracking software run on overhead videos of fish swimming. However, the accuracy of such indirect methods with respect to the turning rate associated with changes in heading during zebrafish locomotion is largely untested. Here, we compare two indirect methods for the turning rate estimation using the centroid velocity or position data, with full shape tracking for three different video sampling rates. We use tracking data from the overhead video recorded at 60, 30, and 15 frames per second of zebrafish swimming in a shallow water tank. Statistical comparisons of absolute turning rate across methods and sampling rates indicate that, while indirect methods are indistinguishable from full shape tracking, the video sampling rate significantly influences the turning rate measurement. The results of this study can aid in the selection of the video capture frame rate, an experimental design parameter in zebrafish behavioral experiments where activity is an important measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-254
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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