Recording long-term potentiation of synaptic transmission by three-dimensional multi-electrode arrays

BMC Neurosci. 2006 Aug 30;7:61. doi: 10.1186/1471-2202-7-61.


Background: Multi-electrode arrays (MEAs) have become popular tools for recording spontaneous and evoked electrical activity of excitable tissues. The majority of previous studies of synaptic transmission in brain slices employed MEAs with planar electrodes that had limited ability to detect signals coming from deeper, healthier layers of the slice. To overcome this limitation, we used three-dimensional (3D) MEAs with tip-shaped electrodes to probe plasticity of field excitatory synaptic potentials (fEPSPs) in the CA1 area of hippocampal slices of 129S5/SvEvBrd and C57BL/6J-TyrC-Brd mice.

Results: Using 3D MEAs, we were able to record larger fEPSPs compared to signals measured by planar MEAs. Several stimulation protocols were used to induce long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic responses in the CA1 area recorded following excitation of Schäffer collateral/commissural fibres. Either two trains of high frequency tetanic stimulation or three trains of theta-burst stimulation caused a persistent, pathway specific enhancement of fEPSPs that remained significantly elevated for at least 60 min. A third LTP induction protocol that comprised 150 pulses delivered at 5 Hz, evoked moderate LTP if excitation strength was increased to 1.5x of the baseline stimulus. In all cases, we observed a clear spatial plasticity gradient with maximum LTP levels detected in proximal apical dendrites of pyramidal neurones. No significant differences in the manifestation of LTP were observed between 129S5/SvEvBrd and C57BL/6J-TyrC-Brd mice with the three protocols used. All forms of plasticity were sensitive to inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors.

Conclusion: Principal features of LTP (magnitude, pathway specificity, NMDA receptor dependence) recorded in the hippocampal slices using MEAs were very similar to those seen in conventional glass electrode experiments. Advantages of using MEAs are the ability to record from different regions of the slice and the ease of conducting several experiments on a multiplexed platform which could be useful for efficient screening of novel transgenic mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electrodes
  • Electrophysiology / instrumentation*
  • Electrophysiology / methods*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate