Kinematics of unrestrained whole-animal locomotor behavior

Ilan Golani
Laboratory of animal behavior
Department of Zoology
Tel Aviv University

We study the kinematics of rodent behavior at two levels:

  1. Motor coordination.

    Our treatment of this subject is illustrated in:

    A video-clip demonstrating the data-acquisition process (left) and an animated reconstruction of the same behavior (right).

    Click the images to watch the corresponding videos. For best quality, maximize the Media Player window.
    Original video clip Slow motion animation of video clip (15 fps)

    The animated reconstruction of the gaits of a rat after severe spinal cord contusive injury (top), a recovered rat after treatment with dendritic cells pulsed with an altered peptide derived from myelin basic protein (center), and a healthy rat (buttom).

    Click the images to watch the corresponding videos.
    For best quality, maximize the Media Player window.


    • Animations prepared by Neri Kafkafi, presently at The Maryland Psychiatric Research Institute (Kafkafi et al., 1996; Kafkafi and Golani, 1998) which accompany the Kafkafi and Golani (1998) paper. The first animation explains the application of the concept of relative phase to unrestrained locomotor behavior. You would first have to download Mathreader and then click Animation of relative phase.
      The second animation shows that ferret locomotor behavior involves a travelling, rather than a standing wave of lateral movement. This is accomplished by coloring each of the parts of the body of the animated animal in correspondence with its current phase of movement. To see it click Phase animation in ferret.

    Coordination of side-to-side head movements and walking in amphetamine-treated rats:

    •  a stereotyped motor pattern as a stable equilibrium in a dynamical system
      Neri Kafkafi , Stavit Levi-Havusha , Ilan Golani , Yoav Benjamini
      Volume 74, Issue 6, pp 487-495
      Biological Cybernetics, Feb 14, 1996
      Download abstract here

    • A traveling wave of lateral movement coordinates both turning and forward walking in the ferret
      Neri Kafkafi , Ilan Golani
      Volume 78, Issue 6, pp 441-453
      Biological Cybernetics, Jul 20, 1998
      Download article in PDF format here


  1. Algorithmic definitions of behavior patterns in mice and their utility in genetic research.

    The presently funded NIH (RO1) research is performed in Tel Aviv University (TAU), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC) in Baltimore. A team including zoologists and statisticians carries out the project in TAU. The project involves the use of large databases and scientific visualization. For further information visit The SEE home page. See also Prof. Yoav Benjamini, or write to:,, or .