TACI: An ImageJ Plugin for 3D Calcium Imaging Analysis

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Journal of Visualized Experiments


Research in neuroscience has evolved to use complex imaging and computational tools to extract comprehensive information from data sets. Calcium imaging is a widely used technique that requires sophisticated software to obtain reliable results, but many laboratories struggle to adopt computational methods when updating protocols to meet modern standards. Difficulties arise due to a lack of programming knowledge and paywalls for software. In addition, cells of interest display movements in all directions during calcium imaging. Many approaches have been developed to correct the motion in the lateral (x/y) direction. This paper describes a workflow using a new ImageJ plugin, TrackMate Analysis of Calcium Imaging (TACI), to examine motion on the z-axis in 3D calcium imaging. This software identifies the maximum fluorescence value from all the z-positions a neuron appears in and uses it to represent the neuron's intensity at the corresponding t-position. Therefore, this tool can separate neurons overlapping in the lateral (x/ y) direction but appearing on distinct z-planes. As an ImageJ plugin, TACI is a user-friendly, open-source computational tool for 3D calcium imaging analysis. We validated this workflow using fly larval thermosensitive neurons that displayed movements in all directions during temperature fluctuation and a 3D calcium imaging dataset acquired from the fly brain.