Towards a standard organization for animal electrophysiology: a new BIDS Extension Proposal

(apologies for cross-postings)

Dear everyone,

With this email, we would like to introduce a new BIDS Extension Proposal (BEP) dedicated to electrophysiological data recorded in animals (BIDS-animal-ephys). The BEP document is available here and we are now seeking feedback (e.g comments directly in the document, or posts in our discussion forum) from the community at large to make sure this suits the largest possible array of needs in animal electrophysiology.

A bit of context and history. BIDS is a simple and intuitive way to organize and describe neuroscientific data in a standardized manner, originally developed for human neuroimaging data (see the first paper on MRI-BIDS), and widely extended since its original introduction to other data modalities (see e.g EEG-BIDS, or MEG-BIDS). A good number of exchanges have already taken place with electrophysiologists, with initial debates on whether adapting the hierarchical organization offered (and imposed) by BIDS (for other data modalities and recorded in human subjects) could suit the needs of the community of researchers working with animal models. Of course, it will change the habits of some, but a consensus has emerged that sticking to what BIDS suggests could suit the needs of a vast majority and that the long term benefits of such a standardization could be worth changing some habits. These observations have led to the formalization of this BIDS-animal-ephys Extension Proposal (BEP).

For info, this BEP has been drafted by members of the INCF Working Group on Standardized Data Structures, that was initiated in 2020 to attempt standardizing the handling of neuroscientific data recorded in animal models. Note that at the present time (early 2021), the discussions in this Working Group are split to tackle two different issues:

  • How to handle animal data in a generic manner (i.e across data modalities, for both in vitro and in vivo data etc.)? The specific discussion about this topic is centralized here.

  • How to handle electrophysiological data recorded in animals, and how to standardize the associated metadata? This is the main objective of the present BEP.

Please consider joining this working group if you would like to contribute to this effort (either directly on these topics, or for other questions / data modalities). You can also reach the moderators of the present BEP through our main discussion forum. Also, please do not hesitate to forward this message around you so that we reach as many electrophysiologists as possible!

Thanks in advance for your feedback and contributions!