Vortex-Data Visualization

Statistical Parametric Mapping refers to the construction and assessment of spatially extended statistical processes used to test hypotheses about functional imaging data. These ideas have been instantiated in software that is called SPM.

The SPM software package has been designed for the analysis of brain imaging data sequences. The sequences can be a series of images from different cohorts, or time-series from the same subject. It is currently designed for the analysis of fMRI, PET, SPECT EEG and MEG images.

SPM provides a solid theoretical foundation to the analysis of brain images. However we felt the need for a complete visualization software which can be used end-to-end for brain imaging visualization & analysis. Vortex tries to serve this niche - it uses SPM as the underlying base for analysis while incorporating the fantastic VTK visualization toolkit.

Also, given that SPM is basically a set of matlab files and hence is really a matlab product or add-on. we also developed a connector from matlab to our python application called Vmat - this has grown quickly into a project on its own. Vmat is designed modularly and can be used by itself to provide a general purpose gateway between python and matlab and not restricted for Vortex use alone.

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For visualization, the VTK toolkit provides an excellent visualization toolkit. Some of the images you see on the left and below are done quite simply, using VTK. Mayavi is 3D-visualization app written in VTK and we have leveraged it to provide really interactive visualization for brain images.

WxWidgets was our choice for the actual windowing UI/application UI. It is cross-platform and widely used while being open-source.

Python was the natural choice for the language which serves as the core glue fo Vortex. It provides Vortex users with an excellent resource for scripting and customizing Vortex to their needs

In total, we have a complete and functional brain-imaging application which can be used both by the neuroscientists and the statisticians not just to do statistical analysis but also provide useful and interactive visualization of the brain images for doing analysis.

The user experience one gets out of Vortex is nothing short of revolutionary. It is the application of visualization techniques used in fluid dynamics, mixing and other engineering applications to the brain imaging space which gives it the edge. Resting on SPM and Matlab with the power of scripting using python, Vortex is the next step in brain imaging. Vortex runs on Windows, Linux and the MAC and is a snap to install and use.