System introduction

Spike2 is the data acquisition system of choice for thousands of researchers worldwide. Whether you require simple data capture or a complete package for experiment control, recording and analysis, Spike2 has many advantages over other data acquisition systems.


Multi-channel recording with automated feature detection using active cursors
Simple chart recorder type application with duplicated display showing zoomed screen
BP, CO2 and phrenic nerve activity during 3 periods of hypoxia and hyperoxia with Poincaré plot
Acquisition using a CED1401


The Micro1401 mk II and Power1401

Photo of expansion options for the Power1401

Expansion options

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Duplicate windows showing rate display of single units from a spike data channel

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Blood flow velocity derived from spectral analysis of output from a Doppler ultrasound machine

Processing and analysis

Experiment control and stimulus sequencing

The Spike2 output sequencer can run complex experiment control and stimulus sequencing protocols during data capture using up to 16 TTL and 8 waveform outputs. Timing is precise as it is controlled at the CED 1401 interface, not the host computer.

Output protocols can be set up in two ways. A graphical editor provides all the functionality most users require, allowing creation of multiple sets of pulse outputs including square pulses, sine waves, ramps, pre-recorded and user-defined waveforms. For more demanding applications, a text editor is available in which you can edit the sequencer steps directly. This makes it possible to control the sequence interactively through the script language by use of variables and tables.

The sequencer also has access to the incoming waveform and event data in real-time, enabling very fast response to changes in waveform levels and detection of events.

Setup of waveform and digital outputs using the graphical sequence editor

Spike detection and sorting

Spike2 identifies and sorts single and multi-unit activity both on-line and off-line. It can mark events using simple threshold crossings or sort up to 32 channels on-line with whole wave spike shape template matching.

For multi-unit recordings, Spike2 contains tools for sorting spikes based on the spike waveform shape. All events crossing a threshold are captured. A combination of template matching and cluster cutting based on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) or user-defined measurements is then used to sort spikes into different units

The template matching system allows templates to be fixed or to track changing spike shapes. Templates can be created automatically or by manual selection of individual spikes.

Cluster cutting methods plot measured values into a 3D view that can be rotated and replayed to show the occurrence of the spikes through time. Clusters are formed by automatic algorithms or manually by placing ellipses. Interactive features include INTHs for current cluster classes, tracking over time, and selection of an individual spike by clicking on its dot in the cluster.

Multi-unit spike discrimination using PCA clustering and template matching

Script language

From complete beginners to experienced programmers, anybody can benefit from the built-in Spike2 script language. Even simple automation of repetitive tasks with known parameters can save hours or even days of tedious analysis. Advanced applications include complete experiment control with on-line application of original algorithms to sampled data in real-time.

The script language not only links Spike2's features but also allows you to generate your own interface and design algorithms. There is a simple macro recording facility to provide a starting point for new scripts. The script language also includes data manipulation tools such as multi-dimensional arrays and matrix functions.

CED maintains a collection of scripts for a wide range of common and specialised applications. If these and the scripts included with the Spike2 software do not meet your needs, contact us to discuss your requirements.

Script driven burst analysis; Poisson surprise burst detection is also available

Spike2 version 6

Spike2 has evolved over many years, staying at the forefront of researchers' needs and constantly adapting in response to user requirements. Many new and improved features are included in version 6, with continual development planned through the course of this version. These upgrades will be freely available to registered version 6 users. Files created by earlier versions are fully compatible. See the latest, version 7.

New version 6 features include:

Virtual channels used in respiratory flow analysis and generation of tone pips for auditory stimulation

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Spike2 user training days

System requirements

Spike2 for Windows version 6 requires a CED Power1401, a Micro1401 or a 1401plus intelligent laboratory interface, and a PC with Windows 98SE, Me, Windows 2000, XP or Vistaâ„¢. We recommend that the PC has a minimum of 512MB of RAM.