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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pycortex: an interactive surface visualizer for fMRI.

  • Author(s): Gao, James
  • Huth, Alexander
  • Lescroart, Mark
  • GALLANT, Jack L.
  • et al.

Surface visualizations of fMRI provide a comprehensive view of cortical activity. However, surface visualizations are difficult to generate and most common visualization techniques rely on unnecessary interpolation which limits the fidelity of the resulting maps. Furthermore, it is difficult to understand the relationship between flattened cortical surfaces and the underlying 3D anatomy using tools available currently. To address these problems we have developed pycortex, a Python toolbox for interactive surface mapping and visualization. Pycortex exploits the power of modern graphics cards to sample volumetric data on a per-pixel basis, allowing dense and accurate mapping of the voxel grid across the surface. Anatomical and functional information can be projected onto the cortical surface. The surface can be inflated and flattened interactively, aiding interpretation of the correspondence between the anatomical surface and the flattened cortical sheet. The output of pycortex can be viewed using WebGL, a technology compatible with modern web browsers. This allows complex fMRI surface maps to be distributed broadly online without requiring installation of complex software.

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