Electrophysiology and synchronization with National Instruments cards

View the Project on GitHub apacker83/PackIO

PackIO Main Window The software is useful for any experiment requiring acquisition and generation of data and can be triggered in several modes.

During graduate school, I was making electrophysiological recordings and trying to synchronize various pieces of equipment (cameras, lasers, galvanometers, etc.). I found no software that was up to the task so I began a project to develop an uber-system capable of performing any data acquisition or generation operation that could be completed with the National Instruments DAQ hardware in use at the Yuste lab at the time. I jokingly referred to the project as "PackIO", a combination of my name and IO, as in input/output, as the software is supposed to be able to take any input or generate any output in any synchronized fashion. The name stuck and now PackIO is in use by members of Rafael Yuste's laboratory, Jason Maclean's laboratory, Roberto Araya's laboratory, and I continue to use PackIO in Michael Hausser's laboratory.

Quick Install

  1. Download and install (32-bit or 64-bit) LabVIEW Runtime Engine (free).
  2. Download and install DAQmx drivers (free).
  3. Download and run 32-bit or 64-bit PackIO!
  4. See wiki on How to view or import data created by PackIO.


Please read the Github wiki.

Compatible hardware

Most National Instruments DAQ cards should work. The following cards are known to work:

Please cite the software

Watson BO, Yuste R, Packer AM (2016) PackIO and EphysViewer: software tools for acquisition and analysis of neuroscience data. bioRxiv Software available from


Thank you to Rafael Yuste and all of the early beta testers in the Yuste lab. Mor Dar contributed some features to seal test and Carmen F. Fisac contributed the auto-incrementer available in version 273.



Karnani MM, Jackson J, Ayzenshtat I, Tucciarone J, Manoocheri K, Snider WG, Yuste R (2016) Cooperative subnetworks of molecularly similar interneurons in mouse neocortex. Neuron 90:86-100. LINK

Karnani MM, Jackson J, Ayzenshtat I, Sichani AH, Manoocheri K, Kim S, Yuste R (2016) Opening holes in the blanket of inhibition: localized lateral disinhibition by VIP interneurons. J Neurosci 36(12):3471-3480. LINK


Packer AM, Russell LE, Dalgleish HWP, Häusser M (2015) Simultaneous all-optical targeted manipulation and recording of neural circuit activity with cellular resolution in vivo. Nature Methods 12:140-146. LINK

Sederberg AJ, Palmer SE, MacLean JN (2015) Decoding thalamic afferent input using microcircuit spiking activity. J Neurophysiol 113(7):2921-33. LINK


Runfeldt MJ, Sadovsky AJ, MacLean JN (2014) Acetylcholine functionally reorganizes neocortical microcircuits. J Neurophysiol 112(5):1205-16. LINK

Sadovsky AJ, MacLean JN (2014) Mouse visual neocortex supports multiple stereotyped patterns of microcircuit activity. J Neurosci 34(23):7769-77. LINK

Neubauer FB, Sederberg A, MacLean JN (2014) Local changes in neocortical circuit dynamics coincide with the spread of seizures to thalamus in a model of epilepsy. Front Neural Circuits 8:101. LINK

Araya R, Vogels TP, Yuste R (2014) Activity-dependent dendritic spine neck changes are correlated with synaptic strength. PNAS 111(28):E2895-904. LINK

Quirin, S, Jackson S, Peterka DS, Yuste R (2014) Simultaneous imaging of neural activity in three dimensions. Front Neural Circuits 8:29. LINK

Izquierdo-Serra M, Gascón-Moya M, Hirtz JJ, Pittolo S, Poskanzer KE, Ferrer È, Alibés R, Busqué F, Yuste R, Hernando J, Gorostiza P (2014) Two-photon neuronal and astrocytic stimulation with azobenzene-based photoswitches. J Am Chem Soc 136(24):8693-701. LINK


Araya R, Andino-Pavlovsky V, Yuste R, Etchenique R (2013) Two-photon optical interrogation of individual dendritic spines with caged dopamine. ACS Chem Neurosci. 4(8):1163-7. LINK

Sippy T, Yuste R (2013) Decorrelating action of inhibition in neocortical networks. J Neurosci. 33(23):9813-30. LINK

Packer AM, McConnell DJ, Fino E, Yuste R (2013) Axo-dendritic overlap and laminar projection can explain interneuron connectivity to pyramidal cells. Cerebral Cortex 23(12):2790-2802. *Selected for cover LINK

Sadovsky AJ, MacLean JN (2013) Scaling of topologically similar functional modules defines mouse primary auditory and somatosensory microcircuitry. J Neurosci. Aug 28;33(35):14048-60, 14060a. LINK

Kruskal PB, Li L, MacLean JN (2013) Circuit reactivation dynamically regulates synaptic plasticity in neocortex. Nat Commun 4:2574. LINK


Packer AM, Peterka DS, Hirtz JJ, Prakash R, Deisseroth K, Yuste R (2012) Two-photon optogenetics of dendritic spines and neural circuits. Nature Methods 9:1202-1205. LINK


Poskanzer KE, Yuste R (2011) Astrocytic regulation of cortical UP states. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108(45):18453-8. LINK

Woodruff AR, McGarry LM, Vogels TP, Inan M, Anderson SA, Yuste R (2011) State-dependent function of neocortical chandelier cells. J Neurosci. 2011 LINK

Fino E, Yuste R. (2011) Dense inhibitory connectivity in neocortex. Neuron 69(6):1188-203. LINK

Packer AM, Yuste R (2011) Dense, unspecific connectivity of neocortical parvalbumin-positive interneurons: a canonical microcircuit for inhibition? Journal of Neuroscience 31(37):13260-13271. *Selected for cover LINK

Ahmadian Y, Packer AM, Yuste R, Paninski L (2011) Designing optimal stimuli to control neuronal spike timing. J. Neurophys. 106(2):1038-1053. LINK

Sadovsky AJ, Kruskal PB, Kimmel JM, Ostmeyer J, Neubauer FB, MacLean JN (2011) Heuristically optimal path scanning for high-speed multiphoton circuit imaging. J Neurophysiol 106(3):1591-8. LINK


Watson BO, Nikolenko V, Araya R, Peterka DS, Woodruff A, Yuste R (2010) Two-photon microscopy with diffractive optical elements and spatial light modulators. Front Neurosci. 29. LINK

Vogelstein J, Packer AM, Machado T, Sippy T, Babadi B, Yuste R, Paninski L (2010) Fast non-negative deconvolution for spike train inference from population calcium imaging. J. Neurophys. 104(6):3691-704. LINK

McGarry LM, Packer AM, Fino E, Nikolenko V, Sippy T, Yuste R (2010) Quantitative classification of somatostatin-positive neocortical interneurons identifies three interneuron subtypes. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 4:12. LINK


Woodruff A, Xu Q, Anderson SA, Yuste R (2009) Depolarizing effect of neocortical chandelier neurons. Front Neural Circuits Oct 20;3:15. LINK

Vogelstein J, Watson B, Packer AM, Yuste R, Jedynak B, Paninski L (2009) Spike inference from calcium imaging using sequential Monte Carlo methods. Biophysical Journal 97:636-55. LINK

Watson BO, Nikolenko V, Yuste R (2009) Two-photon imaging with diffractive optical elements. Front Neural Circuits. 3:6. LINK

Fino E, Araya R, Peterka DS, Salierno M, Etchenique R, Yuste R (2009) RuBi-Glutamate: two-photon and visible-light photoactivation of neurons and dendritic spines. Front Neural Circuits 3(2). LINK


Nikolenko V, Watson BO, Araya R, Woodruff A, Peterka DS, Yuste R (2008) SLM microscopy: scanless two-photon imaging and photostimulation with spatial light modulators. Front Neural Circuits 2(5). LINK

Watson BO, Maclean JN, Yuste R (2008) UP States Protect Ongoing Cortical Activity from Thalamic Inputs. PLOS One 3(12). LINK


Nikolenko V, Poskanzer KE, Yuste R (2007) Two-photon photostimulation and imaging of neural circuits. Nature Methods 4(11) :943-950. LINK