Navigation and service

Interactive steering and visualization


We have developed a steering and visualization tool which allows scientists to interact with NEST simulations during run time. The interaction consists of the possibility to change parameters of the network and visualize the effect of these changes in the simulation.

The tool is based on the ‘nett’ software framework developed at RWTH Aachen University.

Background and Motivation

Mathematical models in many scientific fields can have non-unique solutions or solutions which are very hard to find. When experimental data is insufficient to constrain the models, strategies to explore the parameter spaces are required. Interactive steering and visualization of simulations allow manual exploration of the parameter spaces by a scientific expert. Interactive visualization assists in a better understanding of the model and the impact of parameter changes on overall behavior.

Our approach

In this project, we provide a generic framework which can be used by neuroscientists to perform interactive visual exploration of neural network models. This framework allows the user to change variables during a stepped simulation and visualize the effect of these changes on the model. For the moment, only tests with NEST have been performed, but the framework can be reused by any simulator if the corresponding interface is implemented. The development is open source and the scripts are available through the following git repositories:

The nett messaging framework can be downloaded at: and

The visualization tool, simulation scripts and a user manual: