Connexel visualization: a software implementation of glyphs and edge-bundling for dense connectivity data using brainGL

Front Neurosci. 2014 Mar 4;8:15. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2014.00015. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

The visualization of brain connectivity becomes progressively more challenging as analytic and computational advances begin to facilitate connexel-wise analyses, which include all connections between pairs of voxels. Drawing full connectivity graphs can result in depictions that, rather than illustrating connectivity patterns in more detail, obfuscate patterns owing to the data density. In an effort to expand the possibilities for visualization, we describe two approaches for presenting connexels: edge-bundling, which clarifies structure by grouping geometrically similar connections; and, connectivity glyphs, which depict a condensed connectivity map at each point on the cortical surface. These approaches can be applied in the native brain space, facilitating interpretation of the relation of connexels to brain anatomy. The tools have been implemented as part of brainGL, an extensive open-source software for the interactive exploration of structural and functional brain data.

Keywords: connectome; functional connectivity; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroanatomy; visualization software.