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      Novel electrode technologies for neural recordings

      1 , 2 , 3 , 1 , 4 , *
      Nature reviews. Neuroscience

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          Neural recording electrode technologies have contributed considerably to neuroscience by enabling the extracellular detection of low-frequency local field potential oscillations and high-frequency action potentials of single units. Nevertheless, several long-standing limitations exist, including low multiplexity, deleterious chronic immune responses and long-term recording instability. Driven by initiatives encouraging the generation of novel neurotechnologies and the maturation of technologies to fabricate high-density electronics, novel electrode technologies are emerging. Here, we provide an overview of recently developed neural recording electrode technologies with high spatial integration, long-term stability and multiple functionalities. We describe how these emergent neurotechnologies can approach the ultimate goal of illuminating chronic brain activity with minimal disruption of the neural environment, thereby providing unprecedented opportunities for neuroscience research in the future.

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          Most cited references118

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          Microstructure of a spatial map in the entorhinal cortex.

          The ability to find one's way depends on neural algorithms that integrate information about place, distance and direction, but the implementation of these operations in cortical microcircuits is poorly understood. Here we show that the dorsocaudal medial entorhinal cortex (dMEC) contains a directionally oriented, topographically organized neural map of the spatial environment. Its key unit is the 'grid cell', which is activated whenever the animal's position coincides with any vertex of a regular grid of equilateral triangles spanning the surface of the environment. Grids of neighbouring cells share a common orientation and spacing, but their vertex locations (their phases) differ. The spacing and size of individual fields increase from dorsal to ventral dMEC. The map is anchored to external landmarks, but persists in their absence, suggesting that grid cells may be part of a generalized, path-integration-based map of the spatial environment.
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            Theta oscillations in the hippocampus.

            Theta oscillations represent the "on-line" state of the hippocampus. The extracellular currents underlying theta waves are generated mainly by the entorhinal input, CA3 (Schaffer) collaterals, and voltage-dependent Ca(2+) currents in pyramidal cell dendrites. The rhythm is believed to be critical for temporal coding/decoding of active neuronal ensembles and the modification of synaptic weights. Nevertheless, numerous critical issues regarding both the generation of theta oscillations and their functional significance remain challenges for future research.
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              Fully integrated silicon probes for high-density recording of neural activity

              Sensory, motor and cognitive operations involve the coordinated action of large neuronal populations across multiple brain regions in both superficial and deep structures. Existing extracellular probes record neural activity with excellent spatial and temporal (sub-millisecond) resolution, but from only a few dozen neurons per shank. Optical Ca2+ imaging offers more coverage but lacks the temporal resolution needed to distinguish individual spikes reliably and does not measure local field potentials. Until now, no technology compatible with use in unrestrained animals has combined high spatiotemporal resolution with large volume coverage. Here we design, fabricate and test a new silicon probe known as Neuropixels to meet this need. Each probe has 384 recording channels that can programmably address 960 complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) processing-compatible low-impedance TiN sites that tile a single 10-mm long, 70 × 20-μm cross-section shank. The 6 × 9-mm probe base is fabricated with the shank on a single chip. Voltage signals are filtered, amplified, multiplexed and digitized on the base, allowing the direct transmission of noise-free digital data from the probe. The combination of dense recording sites and high channel count yielded well-isolated spiking activity from hundreds of neurons per probe implanted in mice and rats. Using two probes, more than 700 well-isolated single neurons were recorded simultaneously from five brain structures in an awake mouse. The fully integrated functionality and small size of Neuropixels probes allowed large populations of neurons from several brain structures to be recorded in freely moving animals. This combination of high-performance electrode technology and scalable chip fabrication methods opens a path towards recording of brain-wide neural activity during behaviour.

                Author and article information

                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Nat. Rev. Neurosci.
                Nature reviews. Neuroscience
                17 April 2019
                June 2019
                01 June 2019
                : 20
                : 6
                : 330-345
                [1 ]Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
                [2 ]Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
                [3 ]Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
                [4 ]John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
                Author notes

                Author contributions

                Both authors researched data for article, made substantial contributions to discussion of the content, wrote the article and reviewed or edited the manuscript before submission.

                PMC6531316 PMC6531316 6531316 nihpa1023693


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