Video_4_VIOLA—A Multi-Purpose and Web-Based Visualization Tool for Neuronal-Network Simulation Output.MP4
Neuronal network models and corresponding computer simulations are invaluable tools to aid the interpretation of the relationship between neuron properties, connectivity, and measured activity in cortical tissue. Spatiotemporal patterns of activity propagating across the cortical surface as observed experimentally can for example be described by neuronal network models with layered geometry and distance-dependent connectivity. In order to cover the surface area captured by today's experimental techniques and to achieve sufficient self-consistency, such models contain millions of nerve cells. The interpretation of the resulting stream of multi-modal and multi-dimensional simulation data calls for integrating interactive visualization steps into existing simulation-analysis workflows. Here, we present a set of interactive visualization concepts called views for the visual analysis of activity data in topological network models, and a corresponding reference implementation VIOLA (VIsualization Of Layer Activity). The software is a lightweight, open-source, web-based, and platform-independent application combining and adapting modern interactive visualization paradigms, such as coordinated multiple views, for massively parallel neurophysiological data. For a use-case demonstration we consider spiking activity data of a two-population, layered point-neuron network model incorporating distance-dependent connectivity subject to a spatially confined excitation originating from an external population. With the multiple coordinated views, an explorative and qualitative assessment of the spatiotemporal features of neuronal activity can be performed upfront of a detailed quantitative data analysis of specific aspects of the data. Interactive multi-view analysis therefore assists existing data analysis workflows. Furthermore, ongoing efforts including the European Human Brain Project aim at providing online user portals for integrated model development, simulation, analysis, and provenance tracking, wherein interactive visual analysis tools are one component. Browser-compatible, web-technology based solutions are therefore required. Within this scope, with VIOLA we provide a first prototype.