NeuroGPS-Tree is a workflow developed to reconstruct a neuronal population from a dense, large-scale data set. NeuroGPS-Tree is suitable for processing image stacks acquired by different image modalities.

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This project was designed for vectorize and analyze the  blood vessels in the mouse brain.

This plugin requires the definition of seed point detection settings by the user (Semi-automated).

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Simple Tracing DF-Tracing


We have developed a novel approach, named DF-Tracing, to tackle this challenge. This method first extracts the neurite signal (foreground) from a noisy image by using anisotropic filtering and automated thresholding. Then, DF-Tracing executes a coupled distance-field (DF) algorithm on the extracted foreground neurite signal and reconstructs the neuron morphology automatically. Two distance-transform based “force” fields are used: one for “pressure”, which is the distance transform field of foreground pixels (voxels) to the background, and another for “thrust”, which is the distance transform field of the foreground pixels to an automatically determined seed point. The coupling of these two force fields can“push” a “rolling ball” quickly along the skeleton of a neuron, reconstructing the 3D cell morphology.

Simple Tracing - DT-fields



ORION: Online Reconstruction and functional Imaging Of Neurons: segmentation and tracing of neurons for reconstruction.

A project to develop tools that explore single neuron function via sophisticated image analysis. ORION software bridges advanced optical imaging and compartmental modeling of neuronal function by rapidly, accurately, and robustly generating, from structural image data, a cylindrical morphology model suitable for simulating neuronal function. The goal of this project is to develop a computational and experimental framework to allow real-time mapping of functional imaging data (e.g., spatio-temporal patterns of dendritic voltages or intracellularions) to neuronal structure, during the very limited duration of an acute experiment.


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



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.

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"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.