Reconstructing the engram: simultaneous, multisite, many single neuron recordings

Neuron. 1997 Apr;18(4):529-37. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80295-0.


Little is known about the physiological principles that govern large-scale neuronal interactions in the mammalian brain. Here, we describe an electrophysiological paradigm capable of simultaneously recording the extracellular activity of large populations of single neurons, distributed across multiple cortical and subcortical structures in behaving and anesthetized animals. Up to 100 neurons were simultaneously recorded after 48 microwires were implanted in the brain stem, thalamus, and somatosensory cortex of rats. Overall, 86% of the implanted microwires yielded single neurons, and an average of 2.3 neurons were discriminated per microwire. Our population recordings remained stable for weeks, demonstrating that this method can be employed to investigate the dynamic and distributed neuronal ensemble interactions that underlie processes such as sensory perception, motor control, and sensorimotor learning in freely behaving animals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cell Communication
  • Electrophysiology / instrumentation
  • Electrophysiology / methods*
  • Equipment Design
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats