Objective: Understanding how neuronal assemblies underlie cognitive function is a fundamental question in system neuroscience. It poses the technical challenge to monitor the activity of populations of neurons, potentially widely separated, in relation to behaviour. In this paper, we present a new system which aims at simultaneously recording from a large population of neurons from multiple separated brain regions in freely behaving animals.
Approach: The concept of the new device is to combine the benefits of two existing electrophysiological techniques, i.e. the flexibility and modularity of micro-drive arrays and the high sampling ability of electrode-dense silicon probes.
Main results: Newly engineered long bendable silicon probes were integrated into a micro-drive array. The resulting device can carry up to 16 independently movable silicon probes, each carrying 16 recording sites. Populations of neurons were recorded simultaneously in multiple cortical and/or hippocampal sites in two freely behaving implanted rats.
Significance: Current approaches to monitor neuronal activity either allow to flexibly record from multiple widely separated brain regions (micro-drive arrays) but with a limited sampling density or to provide denser sampling at the expense of a flexible placement in multiple brain regions (neural probes). By combining these two approaches and their benefits, we present an alternative solution for flexible and simultaneous recordings from widely distributed populations of neurons in freely behaving rats.