Prof. Ilan Golani

Emeritus in School of Zoology
ביה"ס לזואולוגיה אמריטוס
Prof. Ilan Golani
Phone: 03-6409391
Another phone: 03-6407350
Fax: 03-6407350
Office: Sherman - Life Sciences

Research Interests

In my work I combine two main aims: describing the behavior of organisms from the presumed point of view of the organism (the organism as an engineer, not a machine), and uncovering behavioral homologies across the animal kingdom. Both aims are accomplished by using a phenomenological approach.


I have been guided by the following principles:

  1. Behavior is an extension of anatomy, therefore it has a structure.
  2. Much like in comparative anatomy, it should be possible to identify behavioral homologies across the animal kingdom at the level of geometry and kinematics, low level representations that allow comparisons across distant systematic groups, highlighting universal structures.
  3. EW Movement notation is a symbolic language of representation fulfilling the above requirements. It has the necessary features for reflecting the interaction between the body and the environment in terms of the organism's own presumed experience ( in reference to gravity, to absolute and body-related coordinate systems, and to the body part(s) supporting the body ).


Other principles that guide my analysis of behavior:

  1. Identifying the origins used by the organism itself and measuring behavior in reference to that origin (e.g., Contact with weight in locomotor behavior, immobility in egocentric space, home base in absolute space, maintained relationship of opposition with another organism in partner-related space).
  2. Conceiving of the animal's operational world (Umwelt) as the sum total of the (measured) quantities actively managed by it.
  3. Studying the developmental dynamics of behavior in situations and preparations in which the behavior is allowed to unfold gradually, from simple to complex and vice versa, yielding a kind ofelectrophoresis of the behavior to its intrinsic constituent processes.


The second half of my career is marked by my cooperation with Yoav Benjamini, with whom I joined forces, both consolidating the above principles and adding new ones:

  1. Extensive preparation of the data for analysis: this includes elaborate smoothing, segmentation, customization and stratification of the behavior into its constituents (SEE).
  2. Identification of the elementary units of behavior on the basis of intrinsic statistical and geometrical constraints. These units are particulate processes rather than discrete inert blocks. They exhibit specific developmental dynamics.
  3. Quantifying the extent and complexity of behavioral growth and decay processes.
  4. Using the degree of replicability of behavioral results across laboratories as a touchstone for the quality of the quantified measures.


Recent Publications

For full list, please see website



Since 2000

"The angular interval between the direction of progression and body orientation in normal, alcohol- and cocaine treated fruit flies."
Anna Gakamsky, Efrat Oron, Dan Valente, Partha P Mitra, Daniel Segal, Yoav Benjamini and Ilan Golani (2013)
PloS one. Vol. 8 (10) , pp. e76257. Link to paper .pdf



"Short and long term measures of anxiety exhibit opposite results."
Ehud Fonio, Yoav Benjamini and Ilan Golani (2012)
PloS one. Vol. 7 (10) , pp. e48414.Link to paper .pdf



"Measuring behavior of animal models: faults and remedies."
Ehud Fonio, Ilan Golani and Yoav Benjamini (2012)
Nature methods. Vol. 9 (12) , pp. 1167-70. Link to paper .pdf



"The developmental dynamics of behavioral growth processes in rodent egocentric and allocentric space."
Ilan Golani (2012)
Behavioural brain research. Vol. 231 (2) , pp. 309-16. Link to paper .pdf



"Validation of the dimensionality emergence assay for the measurement of innate anxiety in laboratory mice."
Apar Jain, Anna Dvorkin, Ehud Fonio, Ilan Golani and Cornelius T Gross (2012)
European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Vol. 22 (2) , pp. 153-63.Link to paper .pdf



"Quantifying the buildup in extent and complexity of free exploration in mice"
Yoav Benjamini, Ehud Fonio, Tal Galili, Gregor Z Havkin and Ilan Golani (2011)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 108 Suppl , pp. 15580-7.Link to paper .pdf



"Longitudinal Assessment of Deliberate Mouse Behavior in the Home Cage and Attached Environments: Relevance to Anxiety and Mood Disorders"
MJ Kas, I Golani and Y Benjamini (2011)
, In Mood and Anxiety Related Phenotypes in Mice. Vol. 63 , pp. 1--20. Link to paper .pdf



"Ten ways to improve the quality of descriptions of whole-animal movement."
Yoav Benjamini, Dina Lipkind, Guy Horev, Ehud Fonio, Neri Kafkafi and Ilan Golani (2010)
Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. Vol. 34 (8) , pp. 1351-65.Link to paper .pdf



"Knots: attractive places with high path tortuosity in mouse open field exploration."
Anna Dvorkin, Henry Szechtman and Ilan Golani (2010)
PLoS computational biology. Vol. 6 (1) , pp. e1000638.Link to paper .pdf



"High-throughput data analysis in behavior genetics"
Anat Sakov, Ilan Golani, Dina Lipkind and Yoav Benjamini (2010)
The Annals of Applied Statistics. Vol. 4 (2) , pp. 743-763. Link to paper .pdf



"Freedom of movement and the stability of its unfolding in free exploration of mice"
Ehud Fonio, Yoav Benjamini and Ilan Golani (2009)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 106 (50) , pp. 21335-40.Link to paper .pdf



"Mouse cognition-related behavior in the open-field: emergence of places of attraction."
Anna Dvorkin, Yoav Benjamini and Ilan Golani (2008)
PLoS computational biology. Vol. 4 (2) , pp. e1000027.Link to paper .pdf



"Coordination of steering in a free-trotting quadruped"
Eyal Gruntman, Yoav Benjamini and Ilan Golani (2007)
Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology. Vol. 193 (3) , pp. 331-45.Link to paper .pdf



"Estimating wall guidance and attraction in mouse free locomotor behavior."
G Horev, Y Benjamini, A Sakov and I Golani (2007)
Genes, brain, and behavior. Vol. 6 (1) , pp. 30-41. Link to paper .pdf



"Analysis of the trajectory of Drosophila melanogaster in a circular open field arena."
Dan Valente, Ilan Golani and Partha P Mitra (2007)
PloS one. Vol. 2 (10) , pp. e1083.Link to paper .pdf



"Characterizing Animal Behavior through Audio and Video Signal Processing"
Dan Valente, Haibin Wang, Peter Andrews, Partha P. Mitra, Sigal Saar, Ofer Tchernichovski, Ilan Golani and Yoav Benjamini (2007)
IEEE Multimedia. Vol. 14 (4) , pp. 32-41. Link to paper .pdf



"Multimedia signal processing for behavioral quantification in neuroscience"
Peter Andrews, Haibin Wang, Dan Valente, Jihène Serkhane, Partha P. Mitra, Sigal Saar, Ofer Tchernichovski and Ilan Golani (2006)
, In Proceedings of the 14th annual ACM international conference on Multimedia - MULTIMEDIA '06. , pp. 1007.Link to paper .pdf



"Wild mouse open field behavior is embedded within the multidimensional data space spanned by laboratory inbred strains."
E Fonio, Y Benjamini, A Sakov and I Golani (2006)
Genes, brain, and behavior. Vol. 5 (5) , pp. 380-8. Link to paper .pdf



"Activity density in the open field: a measure for differentiating the effect of psychostimulants."
Neri Kafkafi and Gregory I. Elmer (2005)
Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. Vol. 80 (2) , pp. 239-49. Link to paper .pdf



"Genotype-environment interactions in mouse behavior: a way out of the problem."
Neri Kafkafi, Yoav Benjamini, Anat Sakov, Greg I Elmer and Ilan Golani (2005)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 102 (12) , pp. 4619-24.Link to paper .pdf



"Texture of locomotor path: a replicable characterization of a complex behavioral phenotype."
N Kafkafi and G I Elmer (2005)
Genes, brain, and behavior. Vol. 4 (7) , pp. 431-43. Link to paper .pdf



"The Behavior of the Laboratory Rat : A Handbook with Tests: A Handbook with Tests"
Ilan Golani, Yoav Benjamini, A Dvorkin, Dina Lipkind and Neri Kafkafi (2004)
, pp. 520. Link to paper



"The dynamics of spatial behavior: how can robust smoothing techniques help?"
Itay Hen, Anat Sakov, Neri Kafkafi, Ilan Golani and Yoav Benjamini (2004)
Journal of Neuroscience Methods. Vol. 133 (1-2) , pp. 161-172.Link to paper .pdf



"New replicable anxiety-related measures of wall vs center behavior of mice in the open field."
Dina Lipkind, Anat Sakov, Neri Kafkafi, Gregory I Elmer, Yoav Benjamini and Ilan Golani (2004)
Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985). Vol. 97 (1) , pp. 347-59. Link to paper .pdf



"Extending SEE for large-scale phenotyping of mouse open-field behavior"
Neri Kafkafi (2003)
Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers. Vol. 35 (2) , pp. 294-301. Link to paper .pdf



"Darting behavior: a quantitative movement pattern designed for discrimination and replicability in mouse locomotor behavior"
Neri Kafkafi, Michal Pagis, Dina Lipkind, Cheryl L Mayo, Yoav Bemjamini, Ilan Golani and Gregory I Elmer (2003)
Behavioural brain research. Vol. 142 (1-2) , pp. 193-205. Link to paper .pdf



"SEE locomotor behavior test discriminates C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mouse inbred strains across laboratories and protocol conditions."
Neri Kafkafi, Dina Lipkind, Yoav Benjamini, Cheryl L Mayo, Gregory I Elmer and Ilan Golani (2003)
Behavioral neuroscience. Vol. 117 (3) , pp. 464-77. Link to paper .pdf



"Controlling the false discovery rate in behavior genetics research"
Yoav Benjamini, Dan Drai, Greg Elmer, Neri Kafkafi and Ilan Golani (2001)
Behavioural Brain Research. Vol. 125 (1-2) , pp. 279-284. Link to paper .pdf



"Rats and mice share common ethologically relevant parameters of exploratory behavior."
D Drai, N Kafkafi, Y Benjamini, G Elmer and I Golani (2001)
Behavioural brain research. Vol. 125 (1-2) , pp. 133-40.Link to paper .pdf



"SEE: a tool for the visualization and analysis of rodent exploratory behavior"
Dan Drai and Ilan Golani (2001)
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Vol. 25 (5) , pp. 409-426. Link to paper .pdf



"Natural segmentation of the locomotor behavior of drug-induced rats in a photobeam cage"
N Kafkafi, C Mayo, D Drai, I Golani and G Elmer (2001)
Journal of neuroscience ldots. Vol. 109 (2) , pp. 111-21.Link to paper .pdf



"Statistical discrimination of natural modes of motion in rat exploratory behavior."
D Drai, Y Benjamini and I Golani (2000)
Journal of neuroscience methods. Vol. 96 (2) , pp. 119-31.Link to paper .pdf



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