I have started to do some research on EEG analysis. One of the challenging things I have found is the variability on the formats for the EEG files.

What do you do when you receive data your software does not support? Is it reasonable to ask the collaborators to convert the data to another format? Do you modify your software to incorporate the details of the new format?

Is there any EEG format out there that is considered standard? Do the EEG manufacturers provide converters to that format in their software?



  • $\begingroup$ If you will say what is the format of your data exectly it will be more easy to help you. $\endgroup$
    – sviter
    Apr 5, 2014 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ My point is that I have data coming in many different formats. The current one is .eeg (coming from nicolet machines). $\endgroup$
    – drio
    Apr 6, 2014 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, short answer is no - there is no gold standard for EEG files. But EEG is a time series (amplitude) from several channels. So the most common way to represent it is columns as electrodes and rows as points of time. I think almost all software is possible to read such structure as txt file. But EEG is not only time series. Usually it is important to have additional channel with event markers. It make the situation a little bit tricky. But usually popular software is able to read most of EEG data formats and it's not difficult to write a custom function for reading your data.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. It is easy if you have a specification of the format you are dealing with. But if that is the case, then that file type is probably supported by the different egg analysis open source projects. I assume not all the company provide details of their file formats? $\endgroup$
    – drio
    Apr 7, 2014 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ Look at this script. sccn.ucsd.edu/pipermail/eeglablist/2004/000565.html Maybe it will work for you. But I think you may contact with manufacturer for specification of your data file. $\endgroup$
    – sviter
    Apr 7, 2014 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ Here are some tutorials on how you can use FieldTrip to load different types of EEG data. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2016 at 9:47

You talk about the challenge of the variability in EEG data formats --- While I am (unfortunately) not aware of a standard EEG data format, there are attempts to standardize the way that EEG data could be shared:

The Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) tries to clarifying the structure of directories and meta data necessary when sharing neuro-imaging data. BIDS started out for MRI data (with the NIfTI format as a standard data format) and so far it is not completely specified for EEG data (partly, because there is no standard data format yet).

However, there is an ongoing process to make an extension to BIDS for EEG.


  • Thesis related to diversity of EEG data formats
  • Journal article about a further attempt at specifying a standard format (though for all neuro data)

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