Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders

New silicon probes record activity of hundreds of neurons simultaneously

08 November 2017

In a $5.5 million collaboration led by researchers at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, scientists at Janelia, the Allen Institute, and University College London (with grant funding from Gatsby and Wellcome) have worked over the past four years with engineers at imec and scientist from NERF to build and test powerful new devices for detecting neural activity within the brains of living animals. The result is a silicon probe called Neuropixels, which can simultaneously record the activity of more than 200 individual neurons.

"This probe has 960 electrodes on a 20-μm-thick silicon stick. This is top-notch Belgian technology that will change electrophysiology as we know it!", says an enthusiastic Vincent Bonin (NERF) as the data are published in Nature.

Typical probes used to interrogate neuronal activity in rodent brains have either high spatiotemporal resolution or large volume coverage, but never both. This changes with Neuropixels, which should detect more than 10 times more neurons than commonly used probes. Its length and ability to switch channel configurations enables examination of several brain regions with a single probe.

In an accompanying commentary in Nature, the development of Neuropixels is heralded as ushering in a new era of microelectrodes.

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James J. Jun, Nicholas A. Steinmetz, Joshua H. Siegle, Daniel J. Denman, Marius Bauza, Brian Barbarits, Albert K. Lee, Costas A. Anastassiou, Alexandru Andrei, Cağatay Aydın, Mladen Barbic, Timothy J. Blanche, Vincent Bonin, Joao Couto, Barundeb Dutta, Sergey L. Gratiy, Diego A. Gutnisky, Michael Häusser, Bill Karsh, Peter Ledochowitsch, Carolina Mora Lopez, Catalin Mitelut, Silke Musa, Michael Okun, Marius Pachitariu, Jan Putzeys, P. Dylan Rich, Cyrille Rossant, Wei-lung Sun, Karel Svoboda, Matteo Carandini, Kenneth D. Harris, Christof Koch, John O’Keefe & Timothy D. Harris, “Fully integrated silicon probes for high-density recording of neural activity,” Nature (551) 2017: pp. 232-236, doi:10.1038/nature24636

Check out the the press release on janelia.org or read the full commentary by Edward Callaway & Anupam Garg in Nature.