Histological evaluation of a chronically-implanted electrocorticographic electrode grid in a non-human primate

J Neural Eng. 2016 Aug;13(4):046019. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/13/4/046019. Epub 2016 Jun 28.


Objective: Electrocorticography (ECoG), used as a neural recording modality for brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), potentially allows for field potentials to be recorded from the surface of the cerebral cortex for long durations without suffering the host-tissue reaction to the extent that it is common with intracortical microelectrodes. Though the stability of signals obtained from chronically implanted ECoG electrodes has begun receiving attention, to date little work has characterized the effects of long-term implantation of ECoG electrodes on underlying cortical tissue.

Approach: We implanted and recorded from a high-density ECoG electrode grid subdurally over cortical motor areas of a Rhesus macaque for 666 d.

Main results: Histological analysis revealed minimal damage to the cortex underneath the implant, though the grid itself was encapsulated in collagenous tissue. We observed macrophages and foreign body giant cells at the tissue-array interface, indicative of a stereotypical foreign body response. Despite this encapsulation, cortical modulation during reaching movements was observed more than 18 months post-implantation.

Significance: These results suggest that ECoG may provide a means by which stable chronic cortical recordings can be obtained with comparatively little tissue damage, facilitating the development of clinically viable BMI systems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Electrocorticography / adverse effects*
  • Electrocorticography / instrumentation*
  • Electrodes, Implanted / adverse effects*
  • Granuloma, Foreign-Body / pathology
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Male
  • Microelectrodes
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Motor Cortex / pathology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology


  • Collagen Type I