Neural Parallel Engine: A toolbox for massively parallel neural signal processing

Wing kin Tam, Zhi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Large-scale neural recordings provide detailed information on neuronal activities and can help elicit the underlying neural mechanisms of the brain. However, the computational burden is also formidable when we try to process the huge data stream generated by such recordings. New method: In this study, we report the development of Neural Parallel Engine (NPE), a toolbox for massively parallel neural signal processing on graphical processing units (GPUs). It offers a selection of the most commonly used routines in neural signal processing such as spike detection and spike sorting, including advanced algorithms such as exponential-component-power-component (EC-PC) spike detection and binary pursuit spike sorting. We also propose a new method for detecting peaks in parallel through a parallel compact operation. Results: Our toolbox is able to offer a 5× to 110× speedup compared with its CPU counterparts depending on the algorithms. A user-friendly MATLAB interface is provided to allow easy integration of the toolbox into existing workflows. Comparison with existing methods: Previous efforts on GPU neural signal processing only focus on a few rudimentary algorithms, are not well-optimized and often do not provide a user-friendly programming interface to fit into existing workflows. There is a strong need for a comprehensive toolbox for massively parallel neural signal processing. Conclusions: A new toolbox for massively parallel neural signal processing has been created. It can offer significant speedup in processing signals from large-scale recordings up to thousands of channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-33
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Massively parallel signal processing
  • Neural signal processing
  • Spike detection
  • Spike sorting


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