Imaging fast neural traffic at fascicular level with electrical impedance tomography: proof of principle in rat sciatic nerve

J Neural Eng. 2018 Oct;15(5):056025. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aad78e. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


Objective: Understanding the coding of neural activity in nerve fascicles is a high priority in computational neuroscience, electroceutical autonomic nerve stimulation and functional electrical stimulation for treatment of paraplegia. Unfortunately, it has been little studied as no technique has yet been available to permit imaging of neuronal depolarization within fascicles in peripheral nerve.

Approach: We report a novel method for achieving this, using a flexible cylindrical multi-electrode cuff placed around nerve and the new medical imaging technique of fast neural electrical impedance tomography (EIT). In the rat sciatic nerve, it was possible to distinguish separate fascicles activated in response to direct electrical stimulation of the posterior tibial and common peroneal nerves.

Main results: Reconstructed EIT images of fascicular activation corresponded with high spatial accuracy to the appropriate fascicles apparent in histology, as well as the inverse source analysis (ISA) of compound action potentials (CAP). With this method, a temporal resolution of 0.3 ms and spatial resolution of less than 100 µm was achieved.

Significance: The method presented here is a potential solution for imaging activity within peripheral nerves with high spatial accuracy. It also provides a basis for imaging and selective neuromodulation to be incorporated in a single implantable non-penetrating peri-neural device.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Electric Impedance
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology
  • Peroneal Nerve / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology*
  • Tibial Nerve / physiology
  • Tomography / methods*