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Long term recordings with immobile silicon probes in the mouse cortex

By Michael Okun, Matteo Carandini, Kenneth D. Harris

Posted 29 Jun 2015
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/021691 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151180)

A key experimental approach in neuroscience involves measuring neuronal activity in behaving animals with extracellular chronic recordings. Such chronic recordings were initially made with single electrodes and tetrodes, and are now increasingly performed with high-density, high-count silicon probes. A common way to achieve long-term chronic recording is to attach the probes to microdrives that progressively advance them into the brain and isolate them from mechanical forces. Here we report, however, that such microdrives are not strictly necessary. Indeed, we obtained high-quality recordings in both head-fixed and freely moving mice for several months following the implantation of immobile chronic probes. Probes implanted into the primary visual cortex yielded well-isolated single units whose spike waveform and orientation tuning were highly reproducible over time. Although electrode drift was not completely absent, at least 70% of neurons retained their waveform across days. Thus, immobile silicon probes represent a straightforward and reliable technique to obtain stable, long-term population recordings in mice, and to follow the activity of populations of well-isolated neurons over multiple days.

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