CARE-rCortex: A Matlab toolbox for the analysis of CArdio-REspiratory-related activity in the Cortex

J Neurosci Methods. 2018 Oct 1;308:309-316. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.08.011. Epub 2018 Aug 13.


Background: Although cardio-respiratory (CR) system is generally controlled by the autonomic nervous system, interactions between the cortex and these primary functions are receiving an increasing interest in neurosciences.

New method: In general, the timing of such internally paced events (e.g. heartbeats or respiratory cycles) may display a large variability. For the analysis of such CR event-related EEG potentials, a baseline must be correctly associated to each cycle of detected events. The open-source toolbox CARE-rCortex provides an easy-to-use interface to detect CR events, define baselines, and analyse in time-frequency (TF) domain the CR-based EEG potentials.

Results: CARE-rCortex provides some practical tools to detect and validate these CR events. Users can define baselines time-locked to a phase of respiratory or heart cycle. A statistical test has also been integrated to highlight significant points of the TF maps with respect to the baseline. We illustrate the use of CARE-rCortex with the analysis of two real cardio-respiratory datasets.

Comparison with existing methods: Compared to other open-source toolboxes, CARE-rCortex allows users to automatically detect CR events, to define and check baselines for each detected event. Different baseline normalizations can be used in the TF analysis of EEG epochs.

Conclusions: The analysis of CR-related EEG activities could provide valuable information about cognitive or pathological brain states. CARE-rCortex runs in Matlab as a plug-in of the EEGLAB software, and it is publicly available at

Keywords: Cardio-respiratory event-related potentials; EEG; Event-Related Desynchronization (ERD); Event-Related Synchronization (ERS).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Respiration*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Software