Neural ensemble communities: open-source approaches to hardware for large-scale electrophysiology
Current Opinion in Neurobiology
One often-overlooked factor when selecting a platform for largescale electrophysiology is whether or not a particular data acquisition system is 'open' or 'closed': that is, whether or not the system's schematics and source code are available to end users. Open systems have a reputation for being difficult to acquire, poorly documented, and hard to maintain. With the arrival of more powerful and compact integrated circuits, rapid prototyping services, and web-based tools for collaborative
... pment, these stereotypes must be reconsidered. We discuss some of the reasons why multichannel extracellular electrophysiology could benefit from open-source approaches and describe examples of successful community-driven tool development within this field. In order to promote the adoption of open-source hardware and to reduce the need for redundant development efforts, we advocate a move toward standardized interfaces that connect each element of the data processing pipeline. This will give researchers the flexibility to modify their tools when necessary, while allowing them to continue to benefit from the high-quality products and expertise provided by commercial vendors. Key interfaces within multichannel electrophysiology platforms. Overview of the main components and interfaces in multichannel electrophysiology systems. Some components and interfaces need to be incompatible in order to comply with different requirements, such as electrodes and their connectors. Others, such as interfaces for software plug-ins or the interfaces between recording hardware and software, could be standardized with little additional development cost. The vertical text describes the interfaces that we recommend standardizing to improve the overall efficiency of our field.