Real-time Electrophysiology: Using Closed-loop Protocols to Probe Neuronal Dynamics and Beyond

J Vis Exp. 2015 Jun 24;(100):e52320. doi: 10.3791/52320.

Abstract

Experimental neuroscience is witnessing an increased interest in the development and application of novel and often complex, closed-loop protocols, where the stimulus applied depends in real-time on the response of the system. Recent applications range from the implementation of virtual reality systems for studying motor responses both in mice and in zebrafish, to control of seizures following cortical stroke using optogenetics. A key advantage of closed-loop techniques resides in the capability of probing higher dimensional properties that are not directly accessible or that depend on multiple variables, such as neuronal excitability and reliability, while at the same time maximizing the experimental throughput. In this contribution and in the context of cellular electrophysiology, we describe how to apply a variety of closed-loop protocols to the study of the response properties of pyramidal cortical neurons, recorded intracellularly with the patch clamp technique in acute brain slices from the somatosensory cortex of juvenile rats. As no commercially available or open source software provides all the features required for efficiently performing the experiments described here, a new software toolbox called LCG was developed, whose modular structure maximizes reuse of computer code and facilitates the implementation of novel experimental paradigms. Stimulation waveforms are specified using a compact meta-description and full experimental protocols are described in text-based configuration files. Additionally, LCG has a command-line interface that is suited for repetition of trials and automation of experimental protocols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophysiology / methods*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar