By members and collaborators of the Functional Imaging Laboratory


SPM8 is very old now. Consider using SPM12.


SPM8, released April 2009, is a major update to the SPM software, containing substantial theoretical, algorithmic, structural and interface enhancements over previous versions.

The Release Notes describing the new features are available in a PDF document.

The software is available for download after completing a brief registration form. You should also periodically check the SPM8 Updates area.

A Manual is also available in a PDF document and some extra information can be obtained on the SPM website and online documentation (such as installation and getting started).



You need the following to run SPM8:

MATLAB: MATLAB (The MathWorks) is a high-level technical computing language and interactive environment for algorithm development, data visualization, data analysis, and numeric computation. SPM8 is designed to work from MATLAB versions 7.1 (R14SP3) to 8.5 (R2015a), and will not work with earlier versions. It requires only core MATLAB to run (i.e. no toolboxes).
See the System Requirements page for a list of suitable platforms to run MATLAB and the Platform Roadmap for the correspondance between MATLAB versions and supported platforms.
MEX files: Whilst the majority of the code is implemented as standard MATLAB M-files, SPM also uses external MEX files, written in C, to perform some of the more computationally intensive operations. Pre-compiled binaries of these external C-MEX routines are provided for:
Windows (32 and 64 bit)
Linux (32 and 64 bit)
Mac Intel (32 and 64 bit)
For these platforms, SPM should work straight out of the box.
For other platforms (Mac PowerPc and Sun Solaris), you will need to create the MEX files using a suitable C compiler and the Makefile provided with the SPM distribution. If you send us the compiled binaries, we would be happy to include them in the SPM archive for other users benefit.
File Format: SPM8 uses the NIFTI-1 file format for the image data. All images are written as NIFTI-1, but it will also read the old Analyze format used by SPM2. Tools are provided to import data from DICOM, MINC and ECAT7.
SPM8 also uses the GIfTI file format for surface-based data.

A beta version of a standalone SPM (compiled using the MATLAB Compiler) is also available.


No backward compatibility with earlier versions of SPM is ensured, although SPM8 should be happy to read the image files.

Because SPM8 writes the data as NIfTI-1, images created by SPM8 can not be properly read by SPM2 or earlier, but they should be fine with SPM5.

File formats of SPM.mat, etc, are also different, with no compatibility among the different SPM versions.


SPM8 greatly benefits from the contributions of other packages:

FieldTrip FieldTrip: A MATLAB toolbox for MEG and EEG data analysis that is being developed at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.
matlabbatch matlabbatch: A stand-alone batch system for MATLAB, developed upon the ideas initiated in the SPM5 job manager.

SPM8 Updates

Although we have tried hard to produce high quality software, in a project of this size and complexity there are certainly some remaining bugs. Please assist us by reporting bugs to the SPM manager <fil.spm@ucl.ac.uk>.

SPM8 updates will be made from time to time and advertised on the SPM mailing list. They can be downloaded from the following address:

A MATLAB script (spm_update.m) is available to detect when a new SPM8 update is available, and possibly install it automatically.

The command line syntax to install the updates on Unix systems (Linux, Mac) is:

unzip spm8.zip
unzip -o spm8_updates_rxxxx.zip -d spm8

On other platforms, just unpack the update archive over your SPM installation so that newer files overwrite existing files.

If you have problems downloading or installing the updates, see this.

DateUpdate Revision Number