A Teensy microcontroller-based interface for optical imaging camera control during behavioral experiments

Michael Romano, Mark Bucklin, Howard Gritton, Dev Mehrotra, Robb Kessel, Xue Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Systems neuroscience experiments often require the integration of precisely timed data acquisition and behavioral monitoring. While specialized commercial systems have been designed to meet various needs of data acquisition and device control, they often fail to offer flexibility to interface with new instruments and variable behavioral experimental designs. New method: We developed a Teensy 3.2 microcontroller-based interface that is easily programmable, and offers high-speed, precisely timed behavioral data acquisition and digital and analog outputs for controlling sCMOS cameras and other devices. Results: We demonstrate the flexibility and the temporal precision of the Teensy interface in two experimental settings. In one example, we used the Teensy interface to record an animal's directional movement on a spherical treadmill, while delivering repeated digital pulses that can be used to control image acquisition from a sCMOS camera. In another example, we used the Teensy interface to deliver an auditory stimulus and a gentle eye puff at precise times in a trace conditioning eye blink behavioral paradigm, while delivering repeated digital pulses to trigger camera image acquisition. Comparison with existing methods: This interface allows high-speed and temporally precise digital data acquisition and device control during diverse behavioral experiments. Conclusion: The Teensy interface, consisting of a Teensy 3.2 and custom software functions, provides a temporally precise, low-cost, and flexible platform to integrate sCMOS camera control into behavioral experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - May 15 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • ADNS-9800 gaming sensor
  • Arduino
  • Microcontroller
  • Open-source
  • sCMOS camera
  • Spherical treadmill
  • Teensy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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