Effects of Synchronous Electrode Pulses on Neural Recruitment During Multichannel Microstimulation

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 30;8(1):13067. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31247-2.


The recent proliferation of high-density microelectrode arrays has inspired several new applications of electrical microstimulation, including restoration of sensory functions in the visual, auditory, and somatosensory systems. In each case, the goal is to achieve precisely targeted activation of neurons, while patterning the location and timing of stimulation across the array to mimic naturalistic patterns of neural activity. However, when two or more electrodes deliver stimulation pulses at the same time, the electric fields created by each electrode interact. The effects of field interactions on neuronal recruitment depend on several factors, which have been studied extensively at the macro-scale but have been overlooked in the case of high density arrays. Here, we report that field interactions can significantly affect neural recruitment, even with low amplitude stimulation. We created a computational model of peripheral nerve axons to estimate stimulation parameters sufficient to generate neural recruitment during synchronous and asynchronous stimulation on two microelectrodes located within the peripheral nerve. Across a range of stimulus amplitudes, the model predicted that synchronous stimulation on adjacent electrodes (400 µm separation), would recruit 2-3 times more neurons than during asynchronous stimulation. Our results suggest that field interactions should not be ignored when designing multichannel microstimulation paradigms, even at threshold-level stimulus amplitudes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Microelectrodes*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*