1Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of New Jersey, 2Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, Collège de France, 3Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howards Hughes Medical Institute, 4Deptartment of Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
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Vandecasteele, M., M., S., Royer, S., Belluscio, M., Berényi, A., Diba, K., et al. Large-scale Recording of Neurons by Movable Silicon Probes in Behaving Rodents. J. Vis. Exp. (61), e3568, doi:10.3791/3568 (2012).
A major challenge in neuroscience is linking behavior to the collective activity of neural assemblies. Understanding of input-output relationships of neurons and circuits requires methods with the spatial selectivity and temporal resolution appropriate for mechanistic analysis of neural ensembles in the behaving animal, i.e. recording of representatively large samples of isolated single neurons. Ensemble monitoring of neuronal activity has progressed remarkably in the past decade in both small and large-brained animals, including human subjects1-11. Multiple-site recording with silicon-based devices are particularly effective because of their scalability, small volume and geometric design.
Here, we describe methods for recording multiple single neurons and local field potential in behaving rodents, using commercially available micro-machined silicon probes with custom-made accessory components. There are two basic options for interfacing silicon probes to preamplifiers: printed circuit boards and flexible cables. Probe supplying companies (http://www.neuronexustech.com/; http://www.sbmicrosystems.com/; http://www.acreo.se/) usually provide the bonding service and deliver probes bonded to printed circuit boards or flexible cables. Here, we describe the implantation of a 4-shank, 32-site probe attached to flexible polyimide cable, and mounted on a movable microdrive. Each step of the probe preparation, microdrive construction and surgery is illustrated so that the end user can easily replicate the process.
1. Construction of the microdrive
All drives are made from the same basic elements: a moving part, which carries the electrode and a fixed part, which is anchored to the skull. An ideal microdrive allows smooth but long enough travel of the electrode in multiple small steps, is sturdy enough to prevent accidental movement of the electrode, easy to manipulate by the experimenter without interfering with the animal's behavior, small in size and light in weight. As a result of these competing requirements, different drives suite different applications.
Only 4 parts are needed to build our basic drive: a brass flat head screw, a matching nut, a plastic bridge prepared from a single row pin header and two custom-cut brass plates.
2. Preparing the silicon probe
Before fixing the probe to the drive, add extra insulation to the bonding area of the probe to prevent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or humidity from producing short-circuits:
To ensure that the recording sites are devoid of any debris, the probe tips need to be cleaned:
Before fixing the probe to the drive, the impedance of each recording site should be checked:
3. Affixing the probe to the microdrive
4. Preparing the skull
Prior to surgery, the reference and ground electrodes, and the parts of the on-head Faraday cage are prepared:
Surgical instruments and preparation are the same as used in many small animal surgeries. The entire surgery is done under deep isoflurane anesthesia, using aseptic conditions, according to NIH approved guidelines. Please note that the (mock) surgery shown in this video is for demonstration purposes only. For appropriate visibility and filming purposes, several preparatory steps, surgical precautions and postoperative procedures are not shown/visible or discussed.
Prior to surgery, all components and supplies should be sterilized, following appropriate procedures (see Guidelines for Survival Rodent Surgery; http://oacu.od.nih.gov/ARAC/surguide.pdf). During surgery, a sterile field on the skull is prepared and isolated by sterile drapes. At the end the surgery, a broad spectrum antibiotics is applied locally and a long-acting pain killer is given intramuscularly (e.g., buprenorphine, [Buprenex] 0.05 mg/kg). In addition, painkiller (e.g., Ibuprofen) is provided in the drinking water at approximately 60 mg/kg/24 hrs for 5 days. For proper surgical and anesthesia procedures, consult appropriate sources12.
5. Preparing the brain surface
6. Implanting the probe
At this stage, the density and orientation of cortical surface vessels are carefully evaluated. Stereotaxic coordinates should be adjusted, because the probe has to penetrate the brain in an area free from larger vessels.
For implantation, the drive assembly can be held with an alligator clip attached to the stereotaxic holder. Uninterrupted visibility of the brain surface and the tips of the probe are critical for successful penetration.
7. Building the on-head Faraday cage
8. Recording in the freely moving animal
9. Representative Results
Electrophysiological signals (local field potential and unit activity) vary depending on the recorded structure and the current behavior of the animal. Figure 1 shows examples of 32-channel CA1 hippocampal recordings while the rat is exploring an open field. Note the prominent 8 Hz (theta band) oscillation of the local field potential during exploration with superimposed spiking on multiple shanks and sites (examples of spikes indicated by arrowheads). To analyze neuronal unit activity, spikes are detected and sorted into single units using cluster analysis of their waveforms15-16.
Figure 1. CA1 Hippocampal recordings in the behaving rat using a 4 shanks x 8 sites silicon probe. Recordings are wideband and sampled at 20 000 Hz, which allows to study both local field potential oscillations (e.g. "theta" band 8 Hz rhythm) and neuronal spiking activity.
Table 1. Alternatives to reagents and equipment used. Please click here to see a larger version of this figure.
This movie illustrates the implantation procedure of silicon probes for chronic large-scale recordings in the behaving rat. Critical steps to ensure quality recordings of neuronal activity arise from the fragility of both biological (brain tissue) and technical (silicon probe) materials. Special care should be taken while handling the probe to avoid any contact of shanks with any remotely "hard" surface (for example, the shanks would break if one tried to implant them in the brain without removing the dura). Similarly, any injury to the brain tissue (while preparing the brain surface for implantation, or from bumping into the probe or drive once it is implanted) would result in damaging the cells and jeopardizing the recording of unit activity. In addition, the electrical path of the grounding should be checked, as any circuit interruption between the cerebrospinal fluid, the ground screw, the copper wire, the copper mesh flaps and the ground pin on the connector, would result in a large movement artifacts and/or line noise (50 Hz or 60 Hz). If the Faraday cage is not high enough, the protruding micro-drive may act as an antenna. The antenna effect can be prevented by grounding the drive as well (solder another copper wire between the drive and the copper-mesh). The reference signal path should be similarly checked.
We illustrated the implantation of a single silicon probe, but multiple site recordings using multiple probes and drives can be readily accomplished after some practice. In addition, we are using similar but smaller drives for implanting silicon probes in the mouse brain. The commercially available silicon probes and probe-flex cable-connector components, along with the small size of multichannel preamplifiers have drastically simplified the preparation process compared to previous techniques. Today, it is as easy to record from 64 to 128 sites simultaneously in a behaving rodent as from 2 sites with wire electrodes just a decade ago.
Silicon probe technology is undergoing rapid development and widespread use17. Preamplifiers can be integrated with probes18, and smaller headstages, multiplexers or telemetric systems are being manufactured commercially, pushing the limits of physiological recordings to further limits.
Recent theoretical and experimental studies with silicon probes17,19 indicate that with properly refined large-scale recording methods, combined with new mathematical insights and modeling studies, one will be able to record from a representatively large fraction or perhaps every neuron from the brain volume surveyed by a multiple shank silicon probe (thousands of cells in ~1 μm3;5-17). However, given the correlational nature of these measurements, the cause-effect relationship among neuronal activity patterns remains inevitably ambiguous. A thorough understanding of how coordinated ensemble activity emerges from its neuronal components requires at least two additional steps. The first one is the identification of the multiple neuronal cell types, each of which uniquely contributes to assembly behavior - literally like members of an orchestra. The second, and complementary step, is a principled manipulation of the spiking activity of identified cells or cell groups, in a manner engineers interrogate electronic circuits20. The recently developed molecular optogenetic tools can be used to manipulate specific cell populations by local light stimulation20-22. The efficient combination large scale recordings and optical methods with silicon probes23 provides the means for both identifying and selectively driving specific cell populations, therefore allowing to address the causal relationships in brain networks.
No conflicts of interest declared.
Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (European Union's FP/2007-2013 Grant Agreements #221834 and 254780), J.D. McDonnell Foundation, NSF Grant SBE 0542013, National Institutes of Health Grant NS034994, National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH5467 and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia Farm Research Campus grant).
|Silicon probe Buzsaki32, 4 shanks x 8 sites. Packaging: flexible polyamide cable||Material||NeuroNexus Technologies||Probe: buzsaki32 Packaging: HC32||Recording probe|
|Round Brass Screw, 00-90 x 1/2 Round Brass Screws||Material||JIMorris||R0090B500||Drive part|
|Brass Hex Nut, 00-90||Material||JIMorris||N0090B||Drive part|
|Brass C260 Strip, ASTM-B36 Thickness: 0.025", Length: 12", Width: 1/2"||Material||Small Parts, Inc.||B000FMYU72||Drive part|
|Connector Header, pitch 2mm, male, single row, straigt, 36 positions||Material||Digi-Key||2163S-36-ND||Drive part|
|2-part Sylgard silicon Elastomer||Material||World Precision Instruments, Inc.||SYLG184||To extra-insulate the probe|
|Decon Contrad 70 Liquid Detergent||Reagent||Fisher Scientific||04-355 Decon Laboratories No.:1002||To clean the recording sites|
|Impedance Conditioning Module||Equipment||FHC, Inc.||55-70-0||Impedance meter|
|niPOD - 32 channels||Equipment||NeuroNexus Technologies||niPOD -32||Impedance meter|
|Grip Cement Industrial Grade||Material||Caulk Dentsply||675571 (powder) 675572 (solvent)||Grip cement|
|1,1’-dioctadecyl-3,3,3’,3’-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (’DiI’; DiIC18(3))||Reagent||Invitrogen||D282||To stain the probe track in the brain|
|Stainless Steel Machine Screw, Binding Head, Slotted Drive, #00-90, 1/8"||Material||Small Parts, Inc.||MX-0090-02B||Ground and reference screws|
|Magnet wire, 20G, nylon-polyurethane coating, MW80||Material||Small Parts, Inc.||B000IJYRP2||Ground and reference wire|
|Stainless Steel Machine Screw, Binding Head Slotted Drive, #000-120, 1/16"||Material||Small Parts, Inc.||MX-000120-01B||Anchor screws|
|N-3 All purpose Flux Liquid||Reagent||La-Co (Markal)||23512||Allows to solder stainless-steel|
|MicroGrid Precision Expanded Copper||Material||Dexmet||3 CU6-050 FA||Copper mesh for on-head Faraday cage|
|C&B-METABOND Quick! Cement System - Dentin Activator||Material||Parkell||S380|
|C&B-METABOND Quick! Cement System - Dental cement||Material||Parkell||S380|
|Sharp point tungsten needle and holder||Tool||Roboz Surgical Instruments Co.||RS-6064 and RS-6061||To make the hook to lift the dura|
|Carbide Bur HP 1/4||Tool||Henry Schein||9990013|
|Paraffin (Granules)||Material||Fisher Scientific||P31-500|
|Mineral Oil, Light (NF/FCC)||Material||Fisher Scientific||O121-1|
|GC ELECTRONICS 10-114 2-Part Epoxy Adhesive||Material||Newark Inc||00Z416|
|Type 1 LITZ 21 AWG 40/36 Red Single Polyurethane-Nylon (MW80-C) TO 0.041"+/-0.002" OD||Material||New England Biolabs||N28-36E-400-2||To make the cable between the headstage and the amplifier|
|32-channel Very Large Scale Integration headstage, 20x gain||Equipment||Plexon||HST/32V-G20||Headstage|