Electrical stimulation of neural tissue to evoke behavioral responses

J Neurosci Methods. 1996 Mar;65(1):1-17. doi: 10.1016/0165-0270(95)00131-x.


This review yields numerous conclusions. (1) Both unit recording and behavioral studies find that current activates neurons (i.e., cell bodies and axons) directly according to the square of the distance between the electrode and the neuron, and that the excitability of neurons can vary between 100 and 4000 microA/mm2 using a 0.2-ms cathodal pulse duration. (2) Currents as low as 10 microA, which is considered within the range of currents typically used during micro-stimulation, activate from a few tenths to several thousands of cell bodies in the cat motor cortex directly depending on their excitability; this indicates that even low currents activate more than a few neurons. (3) Electrode tip size has no effect on the current density--or effect current spread--at far field, but tip size limits the current-density generated at near field. (4) To minimize neuronal damage, the electrode should be discharged after each pulse and the pulse duration should not exceed the chronaxie of the stimulated tissue. (5) The amount of current needed to evoke behavioral responses depends not only on the excitability of the stimulated substrate but also on the type of behavior being studied.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue / physiology*