The invention comprises a software tool, NeuronMetrics, which functions as a set of modules that run in the open-source program ImageJ. NeuronMetrics features a novel method for estimating neural “branch number” (a measure of the axonal complexity) from two-dimensional images. In addition, the tool features a novel method for modeling neural structure in large “gaps” that result from image artifacts.


has topic
need a thumbnail

Neural Circuit Tracer


Neural Circuit Tracer (NCTracer) is open source software for automated and manual tracing of neurites from light microscopy stacks of images. NCTracer has more than one workflow available for neuron tracing. 

"The Neural Circuit Tracer is open source software built using Java (Sun Microsystems) and Matlab (MathWorks, Inc., Natick MA). It is based on the core of ImageJ ( and the graphic user interface has been developed by using Java Swings. The software combines anumber of functionalities of ImageJ with several newly developed functions for automated and manual tracing of neurites. The Neural Circuit Tracer is designed in a way
that will allow the users to add any plug-ins developed for ImageJ. More importantly, functions written in MatLab and converted into Java with Matlab JA toolbox can also be added to the Neural Circuit Tracer." 

Example of output from Neural Circuit Tracer



AnaMorf is a plug-in developed for the ImageJ platform ( to analyse the microscopic morphology of filamentous microbes. The program returns average data on a population of mycelial elements, using the descriptors projected area, circularity, total hyphal length, number of hyphal tips, hyphal growth unit, lacunarity and fractal dimension. The plug-in accepts as input a user-specified directory of images, analysing each and outputing tabulated results.

has function



This plugin tags all pixel/voxels in a skeleton image and then counts all its junctions, triple and quadruple points and branches, and measures their average and maximum length.


he tags are shown in a new window displaying every tag in a different color. You can find it under [Plugins>Skeleton>Analyze Skeleton (2D/3D)]. See Skeletonize3D for an example of how to produce skeleton images.

The voxels are classified into three different categories depending on their 26 neighbors: - End-point voxels: if they have less than 2 neighbors. - Junction voxels: if they have more than 2 neighbors. - Slab voxels: if they have exactly 2 neighbors.

End-point voxels are displayed in blue, slab voxels in orange and junction voxels in purple.

Notice here that, following this notation, the number of junction voxels can be different from the number of actual junctions since some junction voxels can be neighbors of each other.


Output data type: table result, image of the skeleton

Image removed.




hIPNAT (hIPNAT: Image Processing for NeuroAnatomy and Tree-like structures) is a set of tools for the analysis of images of neurons and other tree-like morphologies. It is written for ImageJ, the de facto standard in scientific image processing. It is available through the ImageJ Neuroanatomy update site.

need a thumbnail



"we propose a novel automatic 3D neuron reconstruction algorithm, named Rivulet, which is based on the multi-stencils fast-marching and iterative back-tracking. The proposed Rivulet algorithm is capable of tracing discontinuous areas without being interrupted by densely distributed noises." 

This plugin can be used with default parameters or with user-defined parameters.

Example image obtained from Rivulet Wiki website (




"we present a new fully automated 3D reconstruction algorithm, called TReMAP, short for Tracing, Reverse Mapping and Assembling of 2D Projections. Instead of tracing a 3D image directly in the 3D space as seen in majority of the tracing methods, we first trace the 2D projection trees in 2Dplanes, followed by reverse-mapping the resulting 2D tracing results back into the 3D space as 3D curves; then we use a minimal spanning tree (MST) method to assemble all the 3D curves to generate the final 3D reconstruction. Because we simplify a 3D reconstruction problem into 2D, the computational costs are reduced dramatically." 

Suitable for high throughput neuron image analysis (image sizes >10GB). This plugin can be used with default parameters or user-defined parameters.


APP2 (All-path pruning 2)


"Results: We developed all-path-pruning 2.0 (APP2) for 3D neuron tracing. The most important idea is to prune an initial reconstruction tree of a neuron’s morphology using a long-segment-first hierarchical procedure instead of the original termini-first-search process in APP. To further enhance the robustness of APP2, we compute the distance transform of all image voxels directly for a gray-scale image, without the need to binarize the image before invoking the conventional dis- tance transform. We also design a fast-marching algorithm-based method to compute the initial reconstruction trees without pre-com- puting a large graph. Thismethod allows us to trace large images.We bench-tested APP2 on ~700 3D microscopic images and found that APP2 can generate more satisfactory results in most cases than sev- eral previous methods."

This method can be used with default parameters or user-defined parameters (Fully or semi-automated)


APP (All-path pruning)


"We have developed an automatic graph algorithm, called the all-path pruning (APP), to trace the 3D structure of a neuron. To avoid potential mis-tracing of some parts of a neuron, an APP first produces an initial over-reconstruction, by tracing the optimal geodesic shortest path from the seed location to every possible destination voxel/pixel location in the image. Since the initial reconstruction contains all the possible paths and thus could contain redundant structural components (SC), we simplify the entire reconstruction without compromising its connectedness by pruning the redundant structural elements, using a new maximal- covering minimal-redundant (MCMR) subgraph algorithm. We show that MCMR has a linear computational complexity and will converge. We examined the performance of our method using challenging 3D neuronal image datasets of model organisms (e.g. fruit fly)"

This plugin can be used with default parameters or user-defined parameters.


Angiogenesis / Sprout Analyzer


The Sprout Morphology plugin measures sprout number, length, width and cell density of endothelial cell (EC) sprouts grown in a bead sprouting assay. It optionally includes measuring the coverage of these sprouts with pericytes included in the assay, as well as the endothelial cell/pericyte ratio.

graphical abstract