12.3.2. Using 1D files in AFNI


1D files are basically just simple text files of numbers, either in columns or rows or both. For example, a 1D file might look like:

1    2
3    4
5   -6
7.8  9

The AFNI program 1d_tool.py is a useful program for dealing with this files, as are most 1d* programs (though most 3d* programs can actually operate on them, as well). If the above numbers were stored in a file called test.1D, then we could see its dimensions with varying degrees of descriptive text with:

1d_tool.py -show_rows_cols -infile test.1D

1d_tool.py -show_rows_cols -infile test.1D -verb 0

... which would output each the following lines, respectively:

rows = 4, cols = 2

4 2

The former might be easier on the inquisitive eye, while latter would be more useful for scripting, probably.

These files can also contain comments, such as in the top couple rows or at the furthest right of the data.

1D files as AFNI datasets

Most (but not all) AFNI 3d* programs can operate on *.1D files as if they were 3D datasets. This capability is limited to programs that operate on data voxel-wise – that do not do inter-voxel computations (since no spatial structure is implied by the 1D format). In this usage, each row of a 1D file is a separate “voxel”, and each column represents a sub-brick (e.g., time point). Thus, the file below has 3 voxels and 5 time points:

 3 7 9 11 12
 2 4 6  8 10
-1 2 2 -5  7

To process a single column 1D file as a time-dependent dataset, the file must be transposed on the command line using the \' notation (see below for details). To experiment with this type of input, one simple test is to use commands like

3dTstat -prefix - ‘1D: 3 4 5 6 | 2 3 4 5’ 3dTstat -prefix - ‘1D: 3 4 5 6 | 2 3 4 5’'

where '1D: 3 4 5 6 | 2 3 4 5' is command line shorthand (see the next section) for the file:

3 2
4 3
5 4
6 5

... and '-prefix -' means to write the 1D output to stdout (the screen), which is useful for gaining quick understanding.


  1. You can’t input a 1D ‘dataset’ to 3dcalc in this way – that program treats 1D files in a special way. However, the 1deval program is available for doing calculations on 1D files.

  2. You also can’t input a 1D dataset to the interactive afni program this way.

  3. 3dDeconvolve has a special -input1D .. option for inputting a single column 1D file as a time series.

  4. If you set environment variable AFNI_1D_TIME = YES, then when a multicolumn 1D file is read in as an AFNI dataset, the column variable is taken to be time, and a time-dependent dataset is created. (The default is to create a bucket dataset, with no time axis information.) The value of TR can be set via environment variable AFNI_1D_TIME_TR.

There is a difference between putting a 1D file in a place where a 3D dataset is expected and putting a 1D file in where a 1D file is expected:

  • 1D file in place of a 3D dataset: each row is a separate voxel and time proceeds across the columns.

  • 1D file in place of a 1D file: time proceeds down the rows and each column is a separate time series.

The above rules mean that if you want to process a single column of numbers with a 3d* program, you will usually need to transpose it. For example, if you want to use 3dDetrend to process a 1D column file, then you might do something like so:

3dDetrend -prefix - -vector G1.1D -polort 3 G5.1D\' | 1dplot -stdin

where files G1.1D and G5.1D are both 1 column files with the same number of rows (time points). Note that G1.1D is not transposed on input, since it is in a place that expects a 1D file, but that G5.1D is transposed on input with \' since it appears in a place that expects a 3D file.

  • Note that setting environment variable AFNI_1D_TRANOUT = YES means that when a 3d* program writes a ‘dataset’ that is a 1D file, it will transpose it so that the time axis is down the columns, rather than across the columns – but only if the ‘dataset’ prefix is ‘-’ (for stdout) or ends in ‘.1D’.

  • I know this transposition stuff is confusing, but remember that suffering is a sign that you are still bound to the wheel of Samsara, as are we all. Om Mane Padme Hum.

Column selection with [...]

A similar repertoire of methods is available for on-the-fly editing 1D files on the command line as was shown for general dsets here.

When specifying a timeseries file to an command-line AFNI program, you can select a subset of columns using the ‘[…]’ notation:

fred.1D'[5]'            # only column #5
fred.1D'[5,9,17]'       # columns #5, #9, and #17
fred.1D'[5..8]'         # columns #5, #6, #7, and #8
fred.1D'[5..13(2)]'     # columns #5, #7, #9, #11, and #13

Column indices start at 0. You can use the character $ to indicate the last column in a 1D file. For example, you can select every third column in a 1D file by using the selection list:

fred.1D'[0..$(3)]'      # use columns #0, #3, #6, #9, ....

Row selection with {...}

Similarly, you select a subset of the rows using the {...} notation:

fred.1D'{0..$(2)}'      # rows #0, #2, #4, ....

You can also use both notations together, as in:

fred.1D'[1,3]{1..$(2)}' # columns #1 and #3; rows #1, #3, #5, ....

Direct input of data on the command line with ‘1D:’

You can also input a 1D time series directly on the command line, without an external file. The ‘filename’ for such input has the general format:


where each n_i@ is an integer repetition count (which can be omitted) and each val_i is a float value. For example, the following specifies a single ‘column’ comprising 5+1+5+1=12 numbers:


Spaces or commas can be used to separate values. A vertical pipe | character can be used to start a new input “line”. The following will plot 2 curves, 1 from each ‘column’ of 4 values:

1dplot -DAFNI_1DPLOT_THIK=0.01 -one '1D: 3 4 3 5 | 3 5 4 3'

It is also possible to format the output of program 1deval so that it can be captured on the command line for interactive use. For example:

1dplot `1deval -1D: -num 71 -expr 'cos(t/2)*exp(-t/19)'`

Here, the -1D: option tells the program to format the output starting with the string ‘1D:’ and to separate numbers with commas instead of spaces or newlines. The use of the shell backquotes `...` captures the output of the 1deval command to the command line, and that becomes the input to program 1dplot. (If you want to see what the 1deval -1D: output looks like, just run the command itself without the backquotes or the 1dplot.)

Transposition with \'

You can force most AFNI programs to tranpose (i.e., swap rows for columns) a 1D file on input by appending a single ' character at the end of the filename. Since the ' character is also special to the shell, you’ll probably have to put a \ escape character before it. Contrast the results of these two commands:

# cmd A
1dplot '1D: 3 2 3 4 | 2 3 4 3'

# cmd B
1dplot '1D: 3 2 3 4 | 2 3 4 3'\'