Brainstorm: MATLAB open-source application for MEG/EEG data analysis


Brain imaging (or neuroimaging) provides a non-invasive support to neuroscience to study brain processes. This sector has seen rapid growth since the 90s.
The introduction of modern instruments for electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) has managed to get more support for the understanding of the coordination of the various brain activities for the performance of special functions.

The problem, however, resides in the complexity of software used for displaying the data obtained by MEG and EEG instrumentation. In fact, we talk about an amount of data of about 100 MB per minute.

In order to bridge these problems, it was created Brainstorm, an open-source software, almost entirely developed with MATLAB. Brainstorm allows neuroscientists, with no programming experience, to view and process large volumes of MEG and EEG data.


The Brainstorm project was initiated 15 years ago in collaboration between the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The project has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France and the Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University) in Canada.

The idea of using MATLAB lies in advantages over other programming languages, both for its relative simplicity and for the spread of such software in the scientific community.

These advantages also allow the community of Brainstorm to integrate existing functions with new plug-in and then allow all interested parties to contribute with their own code.
The interface, however, is based on JAVA. This is, in fact, another of the advantages of MATLAB: the ability to easily integrate other programming languages.

Brainstorm allows to perform a variety of operations:
– Importing MEG, EEG and intra-cranial recordings
– Pre-processing
– Powerful and versatile visualization
– MRI visualization and coregistration
– Data organization
– Graphical batching tools
– Head modeling
– Source modeling
– Source display and analysis
– Time-frequency decompositions
– Functional connectivity

In addition, worldwide are organized training courses that represent a further source of ideas. Such occasions represent bidirectional benefits: on the one hand they serve to learn more about the project, on the other hand they are used to meet the community and get to know the users.
Since the project began, Brainstorm servers have already registered more than 12.000 accounts.

An open-source project, open to all, with a community of active users is what marks the basics of a revolutionary, cutting-edge medicine.