EthoVision: a versatile video tracking system for automation of behavioral experiments

Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 2001 Aug;33(3):398-414. doi: 10.3758/bf03195394.


The need for automating behavioral observations and the evolution of systems developed for that purpose is outlined. Video tracking systems enable researchers to study behavior in a reliable and consistent way and over longer time periods than if they were using manual recording. To overcome limitations of currently available systems, we have designed EthoVision, an integrated system for automatic recording of activity, movement, and interactions of animals. The EthoVision software is presented, highlighting some key features that separate EthoVision from other systems: easy file management, independent variable definition, flexible arena and zone design, several methods of data acquisition allowing identification and tracking of multiple animals in multiple arenas, and tools for visualization of the tracks and calculation of a range of analysis parameters. A review of studies using EthoVision is presented, demonstrating the system's use in a wide variety of applications. Possible future directions for development are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Behavioral Sciences / instrumentation*
  • Computing Methodologies*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Observation*
  • Software
  • Videotape Recording*