Installation and Use

Pinpoint is a tool for planning Neuropixels recordings with up to sixteen 1.0, 2.0, or up to four 4-shank 2.0 probes.

Azimuth example

Code is on our Github repository.

Known issues


Please see the alignment section for details.


The easiest way to use the trajectory planner is through our web app.

If you encounter issues please try refreshing the page (sometimes the 3D mesh files don’t download on the first load). If that fails, disable any plugins that might be interfering with javascript (e.g. ad blockers).

Standalone builds

You can also download a Desktop build from the releases page. We can build for linux on request.

Instructions for use

To set up a new probe, select the button on the right panel corresponding to the probe type (NP1/NP2/NP2.4). By default we transform coordinates into the IBL “Needles” space, where the AP=0, ML=0, DV=0 coordinate is placed at Bregma. This setting can be disabled in the settings (under Atlas).

A probe insertion is defined by a target coordinate in the brain and a set of angles to reach that point. When you export a planned insertion Pinpoint will compute the brain surface coordinate and depth of the probe, which you will need to actually perform your experiment.

At any time you can press [M] to open the manual coordinate entry window and enter coordinates directly.


Click + Drag

The easiest way to control your probe is to left click and hold on the brain and then press one of the axis keys, dragging will then allow you to move the probe along that axis.


You can also press any of the keyboard keys to move the probe along that axis in 10um units. Hold SHIFT to move in 100um units. Hold CTRL to move in 1um units. Pressing and holding a key will move continuously.

probe controls

Use [W/A/S/D] to move the probe along the AP or ML axis. Use [Z/X] to move the probe along the DV axis.

USe [Q/E] to rotate the probe azimuth, which corresponds to the angle of the probe manipulator relative to the brain.

Use [R/F] to change the angle of the probe on the manipulator (restricted to 0-90 deg range).

Use [1/3] to spin the probe along the axis of the probe shank. Note that NP2.4 probes spin around the leftmost probe shank when looking from the back.

Probes can be deleted with [Backspace]. To recover a probe you didn’t mean to delete press [CTRL + Backspace].

Recording region

Once the probe is at the position and angles you want, you can adjust the recording region size (in the settings) and position (using [T/G]) to match what you plan to do in your recording and adjust the insertion depth accordingly.

Export coordinates

Clicking on the coordinates shown at the bottom of the screen copies them to the clipboard. If the azimuth angle is not at 0/90/180 use the “convert AP/ML to probe axis” setting to export the position along the probe forward/side axis.

Changing the active probe

When setting up multi-probe insertions you can click the probe panel, the probe model, or the probe coordinate text to set that probe to active.

Using coordinates for surgery

To use your coordinates for a surgery, rotate the manipulator to match the azimuth angle and set the probe elevation angle. Then move your probe tip to Bregma and zero your manipulator.

Translate your probe using the manipulator to match the AP/ML/DV brain surface coordinate provided by Pinpoint. If your probe is rotated off-axis use the convert AP/ML to probe axis setting so that you can match the Forward/Side/DV position instead.

Once the probe is touching the dura, zero the depth axis and insert until you reach the specified depth.

Saving and loading probes

You can save the coordinates of an insertion for future use by clicking on the coordinate text. This copies the active probe coordinates to a string.


Please report issues on the issues page.


Reset active probe - Returns the active probe to the original starting position (Bregma by default)

Spawn IBL probes - Places two NP1.0 probes in the configuration used by the IBL

Detect collisions - Warns the user when two probes are colliding on their shank or on their probe holders

Set (0,0,0) to Bregma - On: sets the 0,0,0 coordinate to Bregma, or to the 0,0,0 CCF coordinate when unchecked (default: on)

Depth from brain surface - On: measures insertion depth from the brain surface, Off: from the DV=0 plane (default: on)

Sagittal/Coronal slices - Dropdown menu allows you to choose different volumes to slice. The annotation dataset is the most useful for trajectory planning.

Display area acronyms - On: show only acronyms for brain areas (default: off)

Areas include layers - On: include the layers (e.g. in cortex) (default: on)

Rig - Dropdown with options for rigs to display

Recording region only - On: display only the areas within the recording region, Off: show the areas along the whole probe shank (default: on)

Recording region size - Slider controls the size of the recording region. Defaults to a set of options that depend on the probe.

Display In-Plane Slice - On: shows a slice of cortex that is “in-plane” with the probe, note that this uses a camera that is looking at the probe from the “front”, i.e. towards the electrodes (default: on)

Convert AP/ML to probe - On: when the probe manipulator is off of the 0/90 axis the AP/ML positions are not useful for calculating the insertion point relative to Bregma with a regular manipulator, turn this on to display the position along the probe forward/side axes (default: off)

Use stereotaxic coordinates - On: displays the stereotaxic stAP, stML, and stDV coordinates instead of the CCF space coordinates. (default: off)

Craniotomy - On: opens a window that allows the user to control the skull craniotomy window, use with the Rig: Skull dropdown option (default: off)

IBL map - On: displays a sphere at the location of each remaining second pass map location, clicking on a sphere moves the active probe controller to that location. You must set the depth value by hand (click probe, press [Z/X], then drag down; or just press [Z/X])


Inspired by Andy Peters’ trajectory explorer

CCF Atlas downloaded from

Mouse brain artwork from


If this project is used as part of a research project you should cite this repository. Please email Dan ( and we can set up a DOI for the version you are using.