Optimisation of bioimpedance measurements of neuronal activity with an ex vivo preparation of Cancer pagurus peripheral nerves

J Neurosci Methods. 2019 Nov 1:327:108322. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2019.108322. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


Background: In mammals, fast neural Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) can image the myelinated component of the compound action potentials (CAP) using a nerve cuff. If applied to unmyelinated fibres this has great potential to improve selective neuromodulation ("electroceuticals") to avoid off-target effects. Previously, bioimpedance recordings were averaged from unmyelinated crab leg nerve fibres, but the signal to noise ratio (SNR) needs improving.

New method: Currently, functional non-invasive neuronal imaging is accomplished through surface electrodes or genetically expressed indicators that provide good spatial, but poor temporal, resolution. Here is an improved method for bioimpedance measurements from a model of unmyelinated fibres to enable optimisation through improvement of the 1) signal processing measurement paradigm, 2) neurophysiology, and 3) electrode-nerve interface.

Results: For bioimpedance recordings, the recruitment and necessity of the CAP was quantified and saline significantly improved the SNR. An improved protocol resulted in averaging not being required, as sequentially recorded traces produced bioimpedance changes of -0.232 ± 0.064% that did not show phase or timing related artefacts.

Comparison with existing method: Here, two bioimpedance traces displayed an SNR of ≥3:1, while previously over >100 averages were required with greater inter-experimental variability. 10 paired traces were averaged for an SNR of ≥9:1, or near real-time measurement.

Conclusions: This method facilitates further studies aiming to enable non-invasive localization of fascicular activity in unmyelinated fibres within peripheral nerves. This technique could ultimately produce the first 3-D tomographic images to help guide selective neuromodulation using bioelectric devices.

Keywords: Bioimpedance; Compound action potential; Crab walking leg nerve; Peripheral nerves; Unmyelinated fibre model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Anomura
  • Electric Impedance*
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated / physiology*
  • Neurophysiology / methods*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*