ACQ4: an open-source software platform for data acquisition and analysis in neurophysiology research

Front Neuroinform. 2014 Jan 30;8:3. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2014.00003. eCollection 2014.


The complexity of modern neurophysiology experiments requires specialized software to coordinate multiple acquisition devices and analyze the collected data. We have developed ACQ4, an open-source software platform for performing data acquisition and analysis in experimental neurophysiology. This software integrates the tasks of acquiring, managing, and analyzing experimental data. ACQ4 has been used primarily for standard patch-clamp electrophysiology, laser scanning photostimulation, multiphoton microscopy, intrinsic imaging, and calcium imaging. The system is highly modular, which facilitates the addition of new devices and functionality. The modules included with ACQ4 provide for rapid construction of acquisition protocols, live video display, and customizable analysis tools. Position-aware data collection allows automated construction of image mosaics and registration of images with 3-dimensional anatomical atlases. ACQ4 uses free and open-source tools including Python, NumPy/SciPy for numerical computation, PyQt for the user interface, and PyQtGraph for scientific graphics. Supported hardware includes cameras, patch clamp amplifiers, scanning mirrors, lasers, shutters, Pockels cells, motorized stages, and more. ACQ4 is available for download at

Keywords: analysis software; calcium imaging; data acquisition; electrophysiology; laser scanning photostimulation; multiphoton microscopy; patch clamp; python language.