Deleterious effects of prolonged electrical excitation of striate cortex in macaques

Brain Behav Evol. 1977 Feb;14(1-2):46-66. doi: 10.1159/000125575.


Macaques were trained to respond to electrical excitation applied through electrodes permanently implanted within or upon striate cortex. Threshold current for the animal to detect this stimulation was highly consistent from day to day and, in the absence of tissue encapsulation of the electrodes or deliberately inflicted damage, remained stable indefinitely, 38 months in the longest case so far. Stimulating continuously for 1-8h, however, produces an elevation of threshold, which may be permanent or temporary, depending upon a variety of conditions. A major cause of such injury is the hydrolysis commonly occurring consequent to passage of low-level currents between solutions and metal electrodes. Even when the hydrolytic reaction is eliminated by restricting the level of electrode polarization or by using capacitative stimulation with tantalum pentoxide electrodes, a rise in threshold often still occurs with protracted stimulation. With proper control in some instances, however, effective stimulation at 2-10 times the threshold level could be maintained indefinitely without apparent injury, e.g. in a blind monkey having a threshold of 290 muA that could respond immediately to an 80-muA diminution in 580-muA, 0.2-msec stimulus pulses which had been applied steadily for 1 h at 50 Hz.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Electric Stimulation / adverse effects*
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Foreign-Body Reaction
  • Haplorhini
  • Macaca
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception