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Tools for reading and visualizing CIFTI brain imaging files.

CIFTI files contain brain imaging data in “gray-ordinates”, which represent the gray matter as cortical surface vertices (left and right) and subcortical voxels (cerebellum, basal ganglia, and other deep gray matter).ciftiTools uses the Connectome Workbench to read CIFTI files into R and apply common pre-processing steps (e.g. smoothing, resampling). It also provides tools for visualizing the cortical surface with GIFTI files, and for visualizing the subcortical volume.


You can install ciftiTools from CRAN with:


Additionally, most of the ciftiTools functions require the Connectome Workbench, which can be installed from the HCP website.

Quick start guide

# Load the package and point to the Connectome Workbench --------
ciftiTools.setOption("wb_path", "path/to/workbench")

# Read and visualize a CIFTI file -------------------------------
cifti_fname <- ciftiTools::demo_files()$cifti["dtseries"]
surfL_fname <- demo_files()$surf["left"]
surfR_fname <- demo_files()$surf["right"]

xii <- read_cifti(
  cifti_fname, brainstructures="all", 
  surfL_fname=surfL_fname, surfR_fname=surfR_fname,

# view_xifti_volume(xii) if subcortex is present

# Access CIFTI data ---------------------------------------------
cortexL <- xii$data$cortex_left
cortexL_mwall <- xii$meta$medial_wall_mask$left
cortexR <- xii$data$cortex_right
cortexR_mwall <- xii$meta$medial_wall_mask$right
# subcortVol <- xii$data$subcort
# subcortLabs <- xii$meta$subcort$labels
# subcortMask <- xii$meta$subcort$mask
surfL <- xii$surf$cortex_left
surfR <- xii$surf$cortex_right

# Write a CIFTI file --------------------------------------------
xii2 <- as.xifti(
  cortexL=cortexL, cortexL_mwall=cortexL_mwall,
  cortexR=cortexR, cortexR_mwall=cortexR_mwall,
  #subcortVol=subcortVol, subcortLabs=subcortLabs,
  surfL=surfL, surfR=surfR

new_cifti_fname <- "my_cifti.dtseries.nii"
write_cifti(xii2, new_cifti_fname)


See this link to view the tutorial vignette.

Graphical summary

ciftiTools graphical summary


Why is a CIFTI file that has been read in called a "xifti"?

The "xifti" object is a general interface for not only CIFTI files, but also GIFTI and NIFTI files. For example, we can plot a surface GIFTI:

xii <- as.xifti(surfL=make_surf(demo_files()$surf["left"]))