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Multiple sensors

Multiple sensors that record neuron activity


Recording the activity of four neurons with a new multi-electrode deviceLUCAS SANTOS / UNIVERSIDADE WAKE FOREST

Brazilian neuro-scientist Lucas Santos, from Wake Forest University, in the United States, has developed a micro-device that allows neuron activity in the cortex and subcortex of monkeys to be recorded simultaneously and with little damage. It is a set of cannulas with multiple electrodes that identify the electric discharges of neurons in behavioral tests. Santos developed the apparatus when he was at Brown University and tested it in collaboration with researchers from Wake Forest (Journal of Neuroscience Methods, April 2012). The device results from the evolution of a technology created in the 1980s for studying rodents. “Various groups tried to adapt this technology unsuccessfully for experiments with primates,” says Santos. Innovations in the design of the device and in the circuits enabled a reduction in the thickness of the cannulas and an increase in the number of electrodes, giving the device a quality similar to that of the one used with rodents. Each cannula has four to six sets of very fine electrodes, with enough sensitivity to identify the discharges of a single neuron, which make it possible to check how those in a more superficial region, such as the cortex, communicate with those from deeper regions, such as the subcortex. “We still don’t know how cortical and subcortical regions of the brain of monkeys interact when they are carrying out a task,” he says. “This innovation will be useful for studies on Parkinson’s and the use of neuroprostheses.”