NeuralAct: A Tool to Visualize Electrocortical (ECoG) Activity on a Three-Dimensional Model of the Cortex

Neuroinformatics. 2015 Apr;13(2):167-74. doi: 10.1007/s12021-014-9252-3.


Electrocorticography (ECoG) records neural signals directly from the surface of the cortex. Due to its high temporal and favorable spatial resolution, ECoG has emerged as a valuable new tool in acquiring cortical activity in cognitive and systems neuroscience. Many studies using ECoG visualized topographies of cortical activity or statistical tests on a three-dimensional model of the cortex, but a dedicated tool for this function has not yet been described. In this paper, we describe the NeuralAct package that serves this purpose. This package takes as input the 3D coordinates of the recording sensors, a cortical model in the same coordinate system (e.g., Talairach), and the activation data to be visualized at each sensor. It then aligns the sensor coordinates with the cortical model, convolves the activation data with a spatial kernel, and renders the resulting activations in color on the cortical model. The NeuralAct package can plot cortical activations of an individual subject as well as activations averaged over subjects. It is capable to render single images as well as sequences of images. The software runs under Matlab and is stable and robust. We here provide the tool and describe its visualization capabilities and procedures. The provided package contains thoroughly documented code and includes a simple demo that guides the researcher through the functionality of the tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping* / instrumentation
  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Models, Neurological*