There are many similarities between these two. Both can be installed as either 64-bit or 32-bit Windows applications, capable of driving the Power1401, Micro and 1401plus, and signal conditioners such as the CED 1902 and the Axon CyberAmps in multi-channel data acquisition. Analysis tools for both programs include averaging and FFT (multi-channel). Both programs have comprehensive menu commands and a powerful script-driven mode of operation.
The differences are firstly in the type of data acquisition, secondly in the specialised features.
Spike2 is designed to collect continuous data: waveforms, digital events and markers, like a very intelligent chart recorder. Waveforms can be captured at independent sampling rates. This enables the system to record experiments that involve low frequency signals such as respiration as well as high frequency signals like nerve activity into a smaller file size than would otherwise be possible. Spike2 is able to produce complex outputs as a combination of waveform and events. These could control switches and motors in, say, a long term behavioural experiment. Video channels can be captured and linked to the data files.
Signal is designed to capture triggered or un-triggered episodic waveform data, like an oscilloscope. The program provides the fastest multi-channel signal acquisition with data throughput up to the full speed of your 1401 ADC, not limited by the interface or disk speeds. All waveform channels share the same sample rate. With the built-in outputs dialogue it is possible to easily set up protocols to output stimulus trains and waveforms with changing amplitude and duration for such experiments as evoked response and Voltage Clamp. The output protocol can also be modified while recording.
Spike2 has spike shape recognition, spike clustering, digital filtering and many time domain analysis tools, which are useful for analysing and displaying spike trains. Spike2 also features a comprehensive feature detection system which is useful for finding and measuring waveforms such as ECG complexes.
Spike2 has a Talker interface, that allows software working with external equipment to supply data to Spike2 for integration into Spike2 files at respectable rates.
Signal has built-in multi-channel analysis and waveform manipulation functions. Feature detection cursors and associated trend plot views enable fast generation of measurements such as slopes and peaks of field potentials. Curve fitting for single or multiple frames of data is also built-in. Signal includes single channel patch clamp acquisition and analysis in addition to the current and voltage clamp capabilities. Dynamic clamping using up to 15 independent models is supported at good rates with the Power1401-3 or Micro1401-4.
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