Virtual Reality (VR) systems can be used with mice and rats to investigate brain functions during a multidude of different paradigms. The JetBall-TFT is a unique combination of a TFT monitor ring and the JetBall with interactive, optional operant devices. The JetBall, an air cushioned spherical treadmill allows an animal to navigate effortlessly in a virtual world. Brain function can be examined with electro-physiological, imaging and optogenetic methods while the animal performs tasks employing navigation, cognition, learning, decision making, or memory.

Key advantages are the flexibility of maze geometry, appearance, and interactions, as well as the speed of repetition: many exact task attempts can be recorded in a short time optimizing statistics.


  • JetBall-TFT setup
  • TFT surround monitor system with 270°
  • JetBall air-cushion supported spherical treadmill
  • Large space for external setups, e.g. multi-photon microscopes or e-phys
  • High image contrast and luminance
  • Predefined experiments or create your own ones with our software
  • Data transfer system to combine JetBall data with external data
  • Video walk-around JetBall


Examples of neural dynamics during navigation and decision making in, e.g., a Corridor or T-Maze:

  • Intracellular dynamics and population activity of hippocampal place cells
  • Grid cell firing fields in virtual environments
  • Neocortical neural coding during decisions.

References and Literature:

“The virtual reality system from Phenosys allows us to perform stable electrophysiological recordings with glass electrodes and silicon probes from mice running on a jet ball. The combination of visual, olfactory and auditory stimuli combined with an online read-out of behavioural actions makes this system an ideal tool to study neuronal circuits in the operating brain. We have been successfully using this system to study gamma oscillations, place cells and spatial navigation in the hippocampus (Lasztoczi and Klausberger, Neuron 2014; Lasztoczi and Klausberger, Neuron 2016).”

Prof. Dr. Thomas Klausberger (MedUni Wien, Austria)

Forro and Klausberger, Differential behavior-related activity of distinct hippocampal interneuron types during odor-associated spatial navigation, Neuron (2023),

Viney TJ, Sarkany B, Ozdemir AT, Hartwich K, Schweimer J, Bannerman D, Somogyi P. (2022) Spread of pathological human Tau from neurons to oligodendrocytes and loss of high-firing pyramidal neurons in aging mice. Cell Rep. Nov 15;41(7):111646

Cho, W.-H., Noh, K., Lee, B. H., Barcelon E., Jun, S.B., Park, H. Y., Lee, S. J. (2022). Hippocampal astrocyes modulate anxiety-like behavior. Nature Communications.

Lee, B.H., Shim, J.Y., Moon, H. C., Kim, D. W., Kim, J., Yook, J. S., Kim, J. and Park, H.Y. (2022). Real-time visualization of mRNA synthesis during memoryformation in live mice. PNAS.

Sun W, Choi I, Stoyanov S, Senkov O, Ponimaskin E, Winter Y, Pakan JMP, Dityatev A. (2021) Context value updating and multidimensional neuronal encoding in the retrosplenial cortex. Nature Communications.

Henschke, J. U., Dylda, E., Katsanevaki, D., Dupuy, N., Currie, S. P., Amvrosiadis, T., … & Rochefort, N. L. (2020). Reward Association Enhances Stimulus-Specific Representations in Primary Visual Cortex. Current Biology.

Bourboulou, R., Marti, G., Michon, F. X., El Feghaly, E., Nouguier, M., Robbe, D., … & Epsztein, J. (2019). Dynamic control of hippocampal spatial coding resolution by local visual cues. Elife, 8, e44487.

Joshi, A., Salib, M., Viney, T. J., Dupret, D., & Somogyi, P. (2017). Behavior-dependent activity and synaptic organization of septo-hippocampal GABAergic neurons selectively targeting the hippocampal CA3 area. Neuron, 96(6), 1342-1357.

Lasztoczi B, Klausberger T. (2014) Layer-Specific GABAergic Control of Distinct Gamma Oscillations in the CA1 Hippocampus. Neuron, 81: 1126-1139 read more

Fuhrmann F. et al., 2015. Locomotion, Theta Oscillations, and the Speed-Correlated Firing of Hippocampal Neurons Are Controlled by a Medial Septal Glutamatergic Circuit. Neuron 86: 1–12 read more

Lasztoczi B, Klausberger T. (2016) Hippocampal Place Cells Couple to Three Different Gamma Oscillations during Place Field Traversal. Neuron, 91: 34–40 read more


Open field, T-maze, Y-maze, Plus-maze …


Be creative! Construct your own mazes with our software development tools. Arbitrary geometries, textures, and changing cues are possible

Play video and audio files that are fully integrated in the JetBall-TFT VR.

Add odor to create complex worlds connecting smell and location.

Dynamic translation of movement to VR. Open and close virtual gates. Change wall textures dynamically.

Record movement and replay it to the animal.

Teleport animal to access multiple maze environments. Let them explore different mazes in one experiment.

The sky is the limit …


What can we do for you?

Contact us today!

TFT Monitor Ring
Screen arrangementoctagonal, six TFT sub-units
Viewing angle270°, from center position
Height44 cm
Weight30 kg
JetBall Spherical Treadmill, 20 cm for Mice
Ball Holder lenght20 cm
Ball Holder width20 cm
Ball Holder height8 cm
Ball Holder height with ball (without air flow)21 cm
Ball Holder weight5.5 kg
Ball Holder materialAluminium
Ball diameter20 cm
Ball materialPolystyrene
JetBall Spherical Treadmill, 30 cm for Rats (<300g)
Ball Holder lenght30.2 cm
Ball Holder width30.2 cm
Ball Holder height12.0 cm
Ball Holder height with ball (without air flow)31.0 cm
Ball Holder weight19.8 kg
Ball Holder materialAluminium
Ball diameter30 cm
Ball materialPolystyrene
Power input voltage100-240 V AC
Power consumption850 W (maximal), 500 W (typical)
Pressure Regulation
Flow meter4-50 l/min, for experiments: 25 l/min
Pressure regulator6 bar (maximum), for experiments: 2 bar
Sound pressure level48-52 dBA (top of the ball, 1 cm distance from the ball, air flow 20 l/min)
Lick Sensor
Material (outer cover)Polyvinyl chloride
Resolution200-5700 dpi
Max. speedUp to 4.19 m/s
Peristaltic Pump
Typical flow rate0.45 ml/min
Movable Rack
Width59.5 cm
Depth62.0 cm
Height (without control monitor)98.5 cm
CategoryOptionDescriptionIn Basic Package included
JetBall Basic Package
  • For mice, 20cm Spherical Treadmill System.
  • For rats (<300g), 30cm Spherical Treadmill System.

TFT Monitor Surround System 270°, Spherical Treadmill (Ball Holder, two balls), Dual XY-Motion Sensor, movable rack, computer (pre-installed: PhenoSoft Control, PhenoSoft Schedule, PhenoSoft VR, Virtual Corridor 2 m, control monitor, keyboard, computer mouse, power supply unit, pressure regulator system (compressor is not included).

Virtual Mazes
  • Endless Corridor
  • T-Maze
  • Y-Maze
  • Plus-Maze
  • Open Field 1 m

Each maze is available with mode for free or linear run.

Ball Holder
  • Ball Holder System 20cm, for mice.
  • Ball Holder System 30cm, for rats (<300 g).

Basic package includes one Ball Holder.
Also useable as a stand-alone product without a virtual reality system.

Additional Ball Holder
  • Ball Holder System 20cm, for mice.
  • Ball Holder System 30cm, for rats (<300 g).

For training or alternating use with mice and rats.

  • Ball 20cm for mice.
  • Ball 30cm for rats (<300 g).

Two balls are included in the Basic Package.

Replacement Balls
  • Ball 20cm for mice.
  • Ball 30cm for rats (<300 g).
Positive Reward
  • Liquid Reward System, 20cm.
  • Liquid Reward System, 30cm.

Retractable: position is adjustable, servo-driven.
Lick Sensor: a drop of water is only delivered when the animal licks.

Negative Reward
  • Air Puff System, 20cm.
  • Air Puff System, 30cm.

Frontal air puff.

Whisker Stimulation
  • Whisker Stimulation System, 20cm.
  • Whisker Stimulation System, 30cm.

Air flow when animal is approaching virtual walls.
Twin system for left and right whiskers, position adjustable.

  • Brake System, 20cm.
  • Brake System, 30cm.

To stop the spherical treadmill, e.g. at the end of a virtual corridor or after a wrong decision in a Y-maze

  • Stereo Sound System

E.g. to use a sound as a landmark.

  • Olfactometer

E.g. to combine an odor with a landmark.

Decision Making
  • Steering wheel rotational input device

For standardized left/right decision making tasks

Linear Treadmill
  • SpeedBelt

For voluntary linear motion

Social Response
  • SocialEncounter add-on

A smooth linear motion brings an interaction partner closer to the tested animal in a perfectly controlled way.

Fixation System
  • Head Holder for mice with 4 bars.
  • Implantable bars with apertures
  • Bars with reduced size

For optogenetics, imaging or electrophysiology.

Overview of the JetBall-TFT System

  • Surround Monitor with virtual reality scene
  • JetBall spherical treadmill: aluminium Ball Holder with polystyrene ball and the various operant modules
  • Four mounting rails on top of the surround monitor for, e.g., optional speakers.

JetBall Spherical Treadmill

Aluminium Ball Holder with polystyrene ball and the various operant modules (view from the top). The modules are highlighted in the following pictures.

Liquid Reward System

Mounted on the retractable operant device of the Ball Holder. A piezo-based lick sensor (Lick Sensor) is integrated into a cannula; there is an amplifier (black box with knob) with adjustable sensitivity.

Air Puff System

Mounted on the retractable operant device of the Ball Holder. It consists of a metal tube connected by plastic tubing to a valve. Tubing behind the valve connects to the flow meter and   the compressed air system.

Brake System

With two lateral and a frontal servo-driven brake.

Whisker Stimulation

Consisting of two metal tubes mounted on articulated arms that are attached to the Ball Holder. Plastic tubing connects to the valves of the compressed air system.

Dual XY-Motion Sensor

Two xy-sensors measure the rotation of the polystyrene ball in x, y and z (yaw, pitch, roll).

Body Fixation

Ball Holder (view from the side) with holder for fixing the mouse (on the right side).

Control Unit with Movable Rack

  • Control monitor
  • Keyboard and computer mouse
  • Pressure regulator system with flow meter and pressure regulator (second pressure regulator for air puff/whisker stimulation)
  • Computer
  • Power supply unit.

PhenoSoft Control – User Interface

Basic experimental control software used with all products by PhenoSys. Control of hardware components.

PhenoSoft Control – Log File

The log file containing the experimental data is written in a CSV format and is automatically saved.

PhenoSoft Schedule

Experimental schedules are defined with the help of state diagrams by using predefined activities from PhenoSoft.

JetBall with customized TFT surround monitor ring.

Double door configuration, partially opened.

Customized solution for 2-photon microscope

TFT ring with double doors. The two central screens are foldable and allow easy access to the interior of the TFT-monitor ring.

TFT monitor ring with double doors and VR display. Fully opened.

Femtonics Integration

JetBall-TFT for mice with a Femto2D microscope from the company Femtonics.

Olympus Integration

JetBall-TFT for mice (20cm ball) with a FVMPE-RS from Olympus.

Booth Olympus, FOM 2015.

SocialEncounter add-on.

A smooth linear motion brings an interaction partner closer to the tested animal in a perfectly controlled way.