Circuitry and Methods for the Simultaneous Electrical Recording and Stimulation of the Nervous System

Circuitry and Methods for the Simultaneous Electrical Recording and Stimulation of the Nervous System

In neural systems, the recording and evocation of electrical potentials has opened multiple avenues for research. From the understanding of neural function to the measurement and stimulation of the in vivo nervous system, electrical interfacing provides a versatile toolset. The use of arrays of electrodes provides a means to sculpt the electrical field applied to tissue, while the same electrodes can be used to measure the activity of the tissue. When further complemented with high-speed video recording and calcium-sensitive dyes, highly-detailed maps of neural activity become available.

To access the full potential of electrical stimulation and recording, maximum functionality and scaling of the interface electronics has to be achieved. To enable detailed electrical recordings of activity, a means to control the stimulation artifacts becomes necessary. In our lab, we have developed custom integrated electronics that address these problems, resulting in a commercial venture (Axion Biosystems) that provides access to our stimulation and recording technology.

One of the goals of interfacing with the nervous system is the selective stimulation of individual neurons or neural populations, that is, activating a neuron while its neighbors remains quiescent. The manipulation of electric fields via electrode arrays makes such a goal possible, but the vastness of the parameter space makes even a cursory investigation of this possibility impractical even in simulation studies. Much less so in biological experimental preparations, where the number of individual experimental conditions is seriously limited. To enable this exploration, closed-loop model-based parameter search modalities have been developed.

The combination of electrode arrays, custom electronics, and closed-loop parameter exploration provide a toolset for the study and manipulation of the nervous system that can lead to the development of new stimulation modalities to address peripheral and central nervous system disorders. Its application to in vivo systems, for the selective stimulation of nerve fibers, opens new avenues for research from the restoration of limb function to the addressing of autoimmune disorders.

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