The Computational Neuroscience
Class Library

CONICAL is a C++ class library for building simulations common in computational neuroscience. Currently its focus is on compartmental modeling, with capabilities similar to GENESIS and NEURON. Future classes may support reaction-diffusion kinetics and more.

A key feature of CONICAL is its cross-platform compatibility; it has been fully co-developed and tested under Unix, DOS, and Mac OS. Any C++ compiler which adheres to the emerging ANSI standard should be able to compile the CONICAL classes without modification.

CONICAL is intended to encourage the rapid development of simulator software, especially on non-Unix systems where such software is sorely lacking. The library may be freely used within certain restrictions (write for details).


Why another neural modeling package?

CONICAL is not a direct competitor with other neural simulation software; rather it serves different purposes. Whereas other packages are generally self-contained programs for a particular platform, CONICAL is a back-end simulation engine around which a number of neural modeling applications can be built. As shown in the table below, each approach has its pros and cons:

Typical Simulator App CONICAL
Model BuildingUnique Script LanguageC++
InterfaceVariousText/File Only
Intended UsersResearchersResearchers, Teachers,
Students, & Programmers

Since simulator applications usually attempt to provide a graphical interface, they have to choose a platform, and this is usually X-Windows so that the high-powered Unix workstations common in research labs can be used. By separating interface from engine, CONICAL sidesteps this choice, and can use fully portable code. And though its use requires writing C++ code, this is a common language, which can make CONICAL easier to learn than other script-based simulators.

CONICAL is no longer under active development, but the code may still serve as a good starting point for computational modeling or for educational purposes. The documentation reflects the current state of the library. See the release notes for latest version information.

This library was developed by Joe Strout while at the University of San Diego, California.