BlenderNEURON is a software tool that takes a NEURON simulator model and exports its 3D structure and membrane activity to Blender, an open-source high-performance 3D modeling tool. BlenderNEURON is easy to install and requires no model translation or modification.

Once a model is in Blender, users can inspect or debug cell morphology and network connectivity, re-play, step through, or scrub through compartment membrane voltage over time, and render the model as beautiful images, videos, or animated GIFs.

The tool is useful for debugging biophysically realistic neural models, easily creating visually impressive figures, and as a virtual laboratory for teaching neuroscience concepts. Most importantly, the tool works with a large body of existing NEURON models. The export can be performed via NEURON GUI or automated via Python commands.

NeuroML models can be visualized by converting them to NEURON with j/pyNeuroML. Support for other simulators can be added by passing section morphology and activity data to the client library.

The tool has been developed by researchers at Arizona State University and has been used as part of the project.



The tool consists of two parts:

  1. The Python/HOC library, which acts as a client
  2. The Blender addon, which acts as the server

Users interact with the client library, which sends commands to the Blender addon, which then creates the meshes, materials, and animations in Blender. The user can then interact and modify the model in Blender.

Getting Started

Follow these steps to display a NEURON model and its voltage potential propagation in Blender:

  1. Make sure you have the required software: working installations of NEURON and Blender
  2. Install the BlenderNEURON HOC GUI or Python library
  3. Install the Blender Addon
  4. Load your model in NEURON
  5. Load the BlenderNEURON GUI or Python module, and use them to export the model to Blender.