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Project description


A collection of scripts to make developing networks in BMTK easier.


Getting Started


pip install bmtool

For developers who will be pulling down additional updates to this repository regularly use the following instead.

git clone
cd bmtools
python develop

Then download updates (from this directory) with

git pull

Example Use

> cd your_bmtk_model_directory
> bmtools
Usage: bmtools [OPTIONS] COMMAND [ARGS]...

  --verbose  Verbose printing
  --help     Show this message and exit.


> bmtools plot 
Usage: bmtools plot [OPTIONS] COMMAND [ARGS]...

  --config PATH  Configuration file to use, default: "simulation_config.json"
  --no-display   When set there will be no plot displayed, useful for saving
  --help         Show this message and exit.

  connection  Display information related to neuron connections
  positions   Plot cell positions for a given set of populations
  raster      Plot the spike raster for a given population
  report      Plot the specified report using BMTK's default report plotter
> bmtools plot positions


Plotting Configuration

BMTools utilizes the default simulation-config.json file to know which data files built by BMTK to read. to change this, specify the config after the plot command. Eg:

bmtool plot --config simulation-config-23.json [FUNCTION] 

Ploting Connections

All connection tools can be customized by supplying additional arguments.

  --title TEXT      change the plot's title
  --save-file TEXT  save plot to path supplied
  --sources TEXT    comma separated list of source node types [default:all]
  --targets TEXT    comma separated list of target node types [default:all]
  --sids TEXT       comma separated list of source node identifiers
  --tids TEXT       comma separated list of target node identifiers
  --no-prepend-pop  When set don't prepend the population name to the unique
                    ids [default:False]

--sources and --targets

Are supplied as comma separated lists and corrospond with the population name specified in your model. Eg:

#initialize the networks in
net = NetworkBuilder('hippocampus')
exp0net = NetworkBuilder('exp0input')

Default behavior is to plot connections between all populations but you can specify only a few to simplify your plots.

--sids and --tids

Comma separated lists of node identifiers replace the default cell_id automatically given to a cell population by BMTK. Any parameter passed to NetworkBuilder.add_nodes is stored in network .h5 files and can be used to identify cells while connecting or producing plots. Eg:

# Adding nodes in
net.add_nodes(N=inpTotal, pop_name='EC',

We could then use the pop_name to alter the output of our connection plots.

bmtool plot connection --sids pop_name --tids pop_name [FUNCTION]


Default behavior of bmtools is to print the population name before the cell id (or sid/tid) followed by an underscore. Eg: hippocampus_100. By supplying --no-prepend-pop the cell name becomes 100 unless specified otherwise.

All together

Using these optional switches we can see the difference in our plot output below.

bmtool plot connection total


bmtool plot connection --sources hippocampus --targets hippocampus --sids pop_name --tids pop_name --no-prepend-pop --title 'Hippocampus Total Connections' total


Plot Total Connections

To plot the total number of connections between two populations of cells run

bmtool plot connection total

Remember to customize the output using the instructions above.


Plot Average Convergence/Divergence

To plot the average convergence or divergence of a single cell excute one of the following commands:

bmtool plot connection convergence
bmtool plot connection divergence


Plot Connection Diagram

To plot a rough sketch of cell type connectivity and the type of synapse used between cells run:

bmtool plot connection network-graph


--edge-property is an option available to change the synapse name if supplied to NetworkBuilder.add_edges when building the network. Default: model_template

Edge Property Histograms

To view the distribution of an edge property between cell types run:

bmtool plot connection property-histogram-matrix

The following figure was generated using

bmtool plot connection --sources hippocampus --targets hippocampus --sids pop_name --tids pop_name --no-prepend-pop --title 'Synaptic Weight Distribution between Cell Types' property-histogram-matrix


By default the property-histogram-matrix looks at the syn_weight value specified in the NetworkBuilder.add_edges function when building your network. You can change this by specifying the --edge-property. Eg:

bmtool plot connection property-histogram-matrix --edge-property [PROPERTY]

Plotting edge values during/after runtime

BMTools is capable of plotting connection properties obtained after runtime from reports. This is useful for synaptic weights that change over time.

First, you must explicitly record the connection property in your simulation_config.json

  "reports": {
    "syn_report": {
      "cells": "hippocampus",
      "variable_name": "W_nmda",
      "module": "netcon_report",
      "sections": "soma",
      "syn_type": "pyr2pyr",
      "file_name": "syns.h5"

Where pyr2pyr is the POINT_PROCESS name for the synapse you're attempting to record, and the variable_name is a RANGE variable listed int the NEURON block of the synapse .mod file.

Once the simulation has been run un the following referencing the report specified above:

bmtool plot connection property-histogram-matrix --edge-property pyr2pyr_w --report output/syns.h5 --time 9999

The --time-compare option can be be used to show the weight distribution change between the specified times. Eg: --time 0 --time-compare 10000

See the BMTK Commit for more details.

Plotting Distance Probability Matrix between cell types


To show the probability of a cell type being connected to another cell type based on distance run:

bmtool plot connection prob

Full summary of options:

> bmtool plot connection prob --help
Usage: bmtool plot connection prob [OPTIONS]

  Probabilities for a connection between given populations. Distance and
  type dependent

  --axis TEXT  comma separated list of axis to use for distance measure eg:
               x,y,z or x,y
  --bins TEXT  number of bins to separate distances into (resolution) -
               default: 8
  --line       Create a line plot instead of a binned bar plot
  --verbose    Print plot values for use in another script
  --help       Show this message and exit.

A more complete command (used for image above) may look similar to

bmtools plot connection --sources hippocampus --targets hippocampus --no-prepend-pop --sids pop_name --tids pop_name prob --bins 10 --line --verbose

This will plot cells in the hippocampus network, using the pop_name as the cell identifier. There will be 10 bins created to group the cell distances. A line plot will be generated instead of the default bar chart. All values for each plot will be printed to the console due to the verbose flag.

All point_process cell types will be ignored since they do not have physical locations.

Cell Tuning

Single Cell Tuning

From a BMTK Model directory containing a simulation_config.json file:

bmtools util cell tune --builder

For non-BMTK cell tuning:

bmtools util cell --template TemplateFile.hoc --mod-folder ./ tune --builder


FIR Curve plotting

> bmtools util cell fi --help
Usage: bmtools util cell fi [OPTIONS]

  Creates a NEURON GUI window with FI curve and passive properties

  --title TEXT
  --min-pa INTEGER   Min pA for injection
  --max-pa INTEGER   Max pA for injection
  --increment FLOAT  Increment the injection by [i] pA
  --tstart INTEGER   Injection start time
  --tdur INTEGER     Duration of injection default:1000ms
  --advanced         Interactive dialog to select injection and recording
  --help             Show this message and exit.

> bmtools util cell fi
? Select a cell:  (Use arrow keys)
 » CA3PyramidalCell


VHalf Segregation Module

Based on the Alturki et al. (2016) paper.

Segregate your channel activation for an easier time tuning your cells.

> bmtools util cell vhseg --help

Usage: bmtools util cell vhseg [OPTIONS]

  Alturki et al. (2016) V1/2 Automated Segregation Interface, simplify
  tuning by separating channel activation

  --title TEXT
  --tstop INTEGER
  --outhoc TEXT         Specify the file you want the modified cell template
                        written to
  --outfolder TEXT      Specify the directory you want the modified cell
                        template and mod files written to (default: _seg)
  --outappend           Append out instead of overwriting (default: False)
  --debug               Print all debug statements
  --fminpa INTEGER      Starting FI Curve amps (default: 0)
  --fmaxpa INTEGER      Ending FI Curve amps (default: 1000)
  --fincrement INTEGER  Increment the FI Curve amps by supplied pA (default:
  --infvars TEXT        Specify the inf variables to plot, skips the wizard.
                        (Comma separated, eg: inf_mech,minf_mech2,ninf_mech2)
  --segvars TEXT        Specify the segregation variables to globally set,
                        skips the wizard. (Comma separated, eg:
  --eleak TEXT          Specify the eleak var manually
  --gleak TEXT          Specify the gleak var manually
  --othersec TEXT       Specify other sections that a window should be
                        generated for (Comma separated, eg: dend[0],dend[1])
  --help                Show this message and exit.


Wizard Mode (Interactive)

> bmtool util cell vhseg

? Select a cell:  CA3PyramidalCell
Using section dend[0]
? Show other sections? (default: No)  Yes
? Select other sections (space bar to select):  done (2 selections)
? Select inf variables to plot (space bar to select):   done (5 selections)
? Select segregation variables [OR VARIABLES YOU WANT TO CHANGE ON ALL SEGMENTS at the same time] (space bar to select):  done (2 selections)

Command Mode (Non-interactive)

bmtool util cell --template CA3PyramidalCell vhseg --othersec dend[0],dend[1] --infvars inf_im --segvars gbar_im --gleak gl_ichan2CA3 --eleak el_ichan2CA3



Simple models can utilize

bmtool util cell --hoc cell_template.hoc vhsegbuild --build
bmtool util cell --hoc segmented_template.hoc vhsegbuild


Planned future features

bmtools build
    Create a starting point network
    Download sample networks

bmtools plot
    Plot variable traces
    Plot spike rasters
    X Plot cell positions
    X Plot connection matricies

bmtools debug 
    X list cell types available for single debug
    X Run a single cell in the network
    Isolate a single cell in the network

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