For a student lab, we have developed a simple program to help automate tracking of a single target (such as a rat) against a static background. Mainly, we use this program for labs in which we need to assess the behavior of animals training in dry mazes, or in a task like the Morris Water maze.
Using a camera mounted over the apparatus, we record video from each session to DVD. Then, we use Handbrake to convert the DVD to an .mp4 or other video format. We then use our custom software, ratTracker4Matlab.m, which runs in Matlab, to extract the position data from each video file.
The program is available free for use, though it requires Matlab in order to run:
The download is a .zip archive which includes the program (ratTracker4Matlab.m) and an example video file (which is also used in the tutorial video below, which gives an overview of how to use the ratTracker4Matlab program). This specific video was created for students who were using the program in the context of a specific lab (training rats on a simple maze task):