A minimally invasive approach to long-term head fixation in behaving nonhuman primates

T. S. Davis, K. Torab, P. House, B. Greger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We have designed a device for long-term head fixation for use in behaving nonhuman primates that is robust yet minimally invasive and simple to use. This device is a modified version of the halo system that is used in humans for cervical traction and stabilization after spinal column injuries. This device consists of an aluminum halo with four titanium skull pins offset from the halo by aluminum posts. The titanium pins insert onto small segments of cranially reinforcing titanium plate, which are attached to the skull with titanium cortex screws. The surgery involves four scalp incisions, placement of the reinforcing plates, insertion of the pins for attachment of the halo, and incision closure. After the halo is attached, the animal's head can be fixed to a primate chair using a custom-built attachment arm that provides three degrees of adjustability for proper positioning during behavioral tasks. We have installed this device on two Macaque monkeys weighing 7 and 10 kg. The halos have been in place on these animals for up to 8 months without signs of discomfort or loss of fixation. Using this method of head fixation, we have been able to track the animals' eye positions with an accuracy of less than two visual degrees while they perform behavioral tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 30 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Behaving monkeys
  • Eye tracking
  • Head fixation device
  • Nonhuman primate
  • Skull-anchored implant
  • Titanium implant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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