A watertight acrylic-free titanium recording chamber for electrophysiology in behaving monkeys

J Neurophysiol. 2011 Sep;106(3):1581-90. doi: 10.1152/jn.00405.2011. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Neurophysiological recording in alert monkeys requires the creation of a permanent aperture in the skull for repeated insertion of microelectrodes. Most laboratories use polymethyl methacrylate to attach a recording chamber over the skull opening. Here, we describe a titanium chamber that fastens to the skull with screws, using no polymethyl methacrylate. The gap between the base of the chamber and the skull is filled with hydroxyapatite, forming a watertight gasket. As the chamber base osseointegates with the skull, the hydroxyapatite is replaced with bone. Rather than having a finite lifetime, the recording chamber becomes more firmly anchored the longer it is in place. It has a small footprint, low profile, and needs little maintenance to control infection. Toilette consists of occasional application of betadine to clean the scalp margin, followed by application of neomycin, polymyxin, and bacitracin ointment. Antibiotic is also placed inside the chamber to suppress bacterial proliferation. Thickening of the dura within the chamber can be prevented by regular application of mitocycin C and/or bevacizumab, an antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor. By conducting an e-mail survey, this protocol for chamber maintenance was compared with procedures used in 37 other vision research laboratories. Refinement of appliances and techniques used for recordings in awake monkeys promises to increase the pace of scientific discovery and to benefit animal welfare.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrodes, Implanted / standards*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humidity / prevention & control*
  • Microelectrodes / standards
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate / adverse effects*
  • Skull / pathology
  • Skull / physiology
  • Titanium / administration & dosage
  • Titanium / standards*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*
  • Water


  • Water
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate
  • Titanium