FAQ - Frequently asked questions
Why the name "RELACS"?
Until 2007 the program was named OEL (Online Electrophysiology Laboratory). This was cool for the Germans, since "OEL" (="Öl") means "oil". However, "OEL" is just "O-E-L" for the rest of the world, which is neither cool nor funny. In addition, "oil" is a fossil fuel that you should avoid anyways...
So, a new name was needed!
"T. racs" is certainly as cool as a dinosaur can be, but you don't want to have such a creature in your lab. Then, of course, we were making fun with something like "forty-two" and "don't panic", and there you are - relax.
relacs is an abbreviation for "Relaxed Electrophysiological data Acquisition, Control, and Stimulation", which describes the features of the program pretty well.
relacs (pronounced "relax!") refers to the usage of the program during an experiment. With the online analysis features you immediately see what's going on and you don't need to interfere with any manual settings - you can simply relax and enjoy the data coming in.
Why is RELACS written in C++?
Each cycle in an closed-loop experiment requires a heavy load of computations do be done in real time - spike detection, data analysis, stimulus generation, and so on. So, slow scripting languages (like matlab or python) definitely don't do the job. We need a compiled language that is quick, structured, and works well with penguins - C++.
Can I just present a stimulus without any fancy closed-loop stuff?
Of course you can! relacs offers a framework to support closed-loop approaches, but you don't have to make use of this. Simply presenting a predefined stimulus (that, for example, might be stored in a file) at a fixed output intensity is possible. In fact, there are already implemented research protocols that just do this (e.g. the SingleStimulus plugin from the auditory and the patch-clamp plugin sets).