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J Neural Eng. 2005 Dec;2(4):81-9. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Biomechanical analysis of silicon microelectrode-induced strain in the brain.

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Wallace H Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University, 3108 UA Whitaker Bldg, 313 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332-0535, USA.


The ability to successfully interface the brain to external electrical systems is important both for fundamental understanding of our nervous system and for the development of neuroprosthetics. Silicon microelectrode arrays offer great promise in realizing this potential. However, when they are implanted into the brain, recording sensitivity is lost due to inflammation and astroglial scarring around the electrode. The inflammation and astroglial scar are thought to result from acute injury during electrode insertion as well as chronic injury caused by micromotion around the implanted electrode. To evaluate the validity of this assumption, the finite element method (FEM) was employed to analyze the strain fields around a single Michigan Si microelectrode due to simulated micromotion. Micromotion was mimicked by applying a force to the electrode, fixing the boundaries of the brain region and applying appropriate symmetry conditions to nodes lying on symmetry planes. Characteristics of the deformation fields around the electrode including maximum electrode displacement, strain fields and relative displacement between the electrode and the adjacent tissue were examined for varying degrees of physical coupling between the brain and the electrode. Our analysis demonstrates that when physical coupling between the electrode and the brain increases, the micromotion-induced strain of tissue around the electrode decreases as does the relative slip between the electrode and the brain. These results support the use of neuro-integrative coatings on electrode arrays as a means to reduce the micromotion-induced injury response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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