Multi-scale, multi-modal analysis uncovers complex relationship at the brain tissue-implant neural interface: new emphasis on the biological interface

J Neural Eng. 2018 Jun;15(3):033001. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa9dae. Epub 2017 Nov 28.


Objective: Implantable neural electrode devices are important tools for neuroscience research and have an increasing range of clinical applications. However, the intricacies of the biological response after implantation, and their ultimate impact on recording performance, remain challenging to elucidate. Establishing a relationship between the neurobiology and chronic recording performance is confounded by technical challenges related to traditional electrophysiological, material, and histological limitations. This can greatly impact the interpretations of results pertaining to device performance and tissue health surrounding the implant.

Approach: In this work, electrophysiological activity and immunohistological analysis are compared after controlling for motion artifacts, quiescent neuronal activity, and material failure of devices in order to better understand the relationship between histology and electrophysiological outcomes.

Main results: Even after carefully accounting for these factors, the presence of viable neurons and lack of glial scarring does not convey single unit recording performance.

Significance: To better understand the biological factors influencing neural activity, detailed cellular and molecular tissue responses were examined. Decreases in neural activity and blood oxygenation in the tissue surrounding the implant, shift in expression levels of vesicular transporter proteins and ion channels, axon and myelin injury, and interrupted blood flow in nearby capillaries can impact neural activity around implanted neural interfaces. Combined, these tissue changes highlight the need for more comprehensive, basic science research to elucidate the relationship between biology and chronic electrophysiology performance in order to advance neural technologies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces*
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microelectrodes
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton / methods
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology*
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / surgery
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / surgery