Wireless neural stimulation in freely behaving small animals

J Neurophysiol. 2009 Jul;102(1):598-605. doi: 10.1152/jn.00017.2009. Epub 2009 Apr 22.


We introduce a novel wireless, low-power neural stimulation system for use in freely behaving animals. The system consists of an external transmitter and a miniature, implantable wireless receiver-stimulator. The implant uses a custom integrated chip to deliver biphasic current pulses to four addressable bipolar electrodes at 32 selectable current levels (10 microA to 1 mA). To achieve maximal battery life, the chip enters a sleep mode when not needed and can be awakened remotely when required. To test our device, we implanted bipolar stimulating electrodes into the songbird motor nucleus HVC (formerly called the high vocal center) of zebra finches. Single-neuron recordings revealed that wireless stimulation of HVC led to a strong increase of spiking activity in its downstream target, the robust nucleus of the arcopallium. When we used this device to deliver biphasic pulses of current randomly during singing, singing activity was prematurely terminated in all birds tested. Thus our device is highly effective for remotely modulating a neural circuit and its corresponding behavior in an untethered, freely behaving animal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biophysics
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electrical Equipment and Supplies
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Finches / physiology
  • High Vocal Center / cytology*
  • High Vocal Center / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted* / instrumentation
  • Telemetry / adverse effects
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*
  • Telemetry / methods
  • Wakefulness / physiology*