8.1. The NIFTI format

8.1.1. Overview

In the early 2000s, a need was recognized for having a single data format for MRI that all major software packages could read and write. To that end, NIfTI (which stands for Neuroimaging Informatics Technology Initiative) was an NIH-sponsored working group to promote interoperability of functional neuroimaging software tools.

The NIfTI (or NIFTI) data format is still central to neuroimaging work today. It remains opens to suggestions, while also greatly valuing stability as an underlying dependency to a large fraction of software analysis tools in the field. The central NIFTI project GitHub repository, for various languages like C, Matlab and Java is here:

8.1.2. NIfTI and AFNI: working together

AFNI and NIFTI have a long history of working together:

  • AFNI has formally supported NIFTI usage for both input and output since 2005.

  • Bob Cox (SSCC, NIMH, NIH, USA), who started AFNI, was the primary architect and first author of the NIfTI data format:
    Cox RW, Ashburner J, Breman H, Fissell K, Haselgrove C, Holmes CJ, Lancaster JL, Rex DE, Smith SM, Woodward JB, Strother SC (2004). (sort of) new image data format standard: NiFTI-1. Presented at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping.
  • At present (and for many years prior), Rick Reynolds (SSCC, NIMH, NIH, USA), also of the AFNI group, has been the central maintainer of the publicly available NIfTI C-library repository on GitHub.

8.1.3. The NIfTI Data Format Working Group

The original Data Format Working Group (DFWG) was comprised of the following members from the neuroimaging community:

Robert W Cox


John Ashburner


Hester Breman

Brain Innovation/Maastricht

Kate Fissell

U Pittsburgh/Pittsburgh

Christian Haselgrove


Colin J Holmes


Jack L Lancaster


David E Rex

LONI/UCLA/Los Angeles

Stephen M Smith


Jeffrey B Woodward

Dartmouth College/Hanover

Stephen C Strother

U Minnesota/Minneapolis and NIfTI-DFWG Chair

... and Mark Jenkinson of the FMRIB/Oxford is also noted for contributing mightily to NIfTI-1.

More information on the background and development notes about NIfTI from the early days can be found here: