Behavioural assays represent sensitive methods for detecting neuronal dysfunction in model organisms. A number of manual methods have been established for Drosophila, however these are time-consuming and generate parameter-poor phenotype descriptors. Here, we have developed an automated computer vision system to monitor accurately the three-dimensional locomotor trajectories of flies. This approach allows the quantitative description of fly trajectories, using small fly cohorts and short acquisition times. The application of this approach to a Drosophila model of Alzheimer's disease enables the early detection of progressive locomotor deficits and the quantitative assessment of phenotype severity. The approach can be widely applied to different disease models in a number of model organisms.
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