Hitchhiker's Guide to Voltammetry: Acute and Chronic Electrodes for in Vivo Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2017 Feb 15;8(2):221-234. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.6b00393. Epub 2017 Feb 9.


Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) has been used for over 20 years to study rapid neurotransmission in awake and behaving animals. These experiments were first carried out with carbon-fiber microelectrodes (CFMs) encased in borosilicate glass, which can be inserted into the brain through micromanipulators and guide cannulas. More recently, chronically implantable CFMs constructed with small diameter fused-silica have been introduced. These electrodes can be affixed in the brain with minimal tissue response, which permits longitudinal measurements of neurotransmission in single recording locations during behavior. Both electrode designs have been used to make novel discoveries in the fields of neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, and psychopharmacology. The purpose of this Review is to address important considerations for the use of FSCV to study neurotransmitters in awake and behaving animals, with a focus on measurements of striatal dopamine. Common issues concerning experimental design, data collection, and calibration are addressed. When necessary, differences between the two methodologies (acute vs chronic recordings) are discussed. The topics raised in this Review are particularly important as the field moves beyond dopamine toward new neurochemicals and brain regions.

Keywords: Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry; carbon-fiber microelectrodes; chemometrics; dopamine; principal component regression.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Electrochemical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Electrochemical Techniques / methods*
  • Electrodes*
  • Humans
  • Wakefulness*