The flexDrive: an ultra-light implant for optical control and highly parallel chronic recording of neuronal ensembles in freely moving mice

Front Syst Neurosci. 2013 May 13;7:8. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2013.00008. eCollection 2013.


Electrophysiological recordings from ensembles of neurons in behaving mice are a central tool in the study of neural circuits. Despite the widespread use of chronic electrophysiology, the precise positioning of recording electrodes required for high-quality recordings remains a challenge, especially in behaving mice. The complexity of available drive mechanisms, combined with restrictions on implant weight tolerated by mice, limits current methods to recordings from no more than 4-8 electrodes in a single target area. We developed a highly miniaturized yet simple drive design that can be used to independently position 16 electrodes with up to 64 channels in a package that weighs ~2 g. This advance over current designs is achieved by a novel spring-based drive mechanism that reduces implant weight and complexity. The device is easy to build and accommodates arbitrary spatial arrangements of electrodes. Multiple optical fibers can be integrated into the recording array and independently manipulated in depth. Thus, our novel design enables precise optogenetic control and highly parallel chronic recordings of identified single neurons throughout neural circuits in mice.

Keywords: electrode array; electrophysiology; free behavior; microdrive; multi-site; optogenetics.