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Front Neural Circuits. 2012 Jun 27;6:39. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2012.00039. eCollection 2012.

Three-dimensional brain reconstruction of in vivo electrode tracks for neuroscience and neural prosthetic applications.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA.


The brain is a densely interconnected network that relies on populations of neurons within and across multiple nuclei to code for features leading to perception and action. However, the neurophysiology field is still dominated by the characterization of individual neurons, rather than simultaneous recordings across multiple regions, without consistent spatial reconstruction of their locations for comparisons across studies. There are sophisticated histological and imaging techniques for performing brain reconstructions. However, what is needed is a method that is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement in a typical neurophysiology lab and provides consistent identification of electrode locations to make it widely used for pooling data across studies and research groups. This paper presents our initial development of such an approach for reconstructing electrode tracks and site locations within the guinea pig inferior colliculus (IC) to identify its functional organization for frequency coding relevant for a new auditory midbrain implant (AMI). Encouragingly, the spatial error associated with different individuals reconstructing electrode tracks for the same midbrain was less than 65 μm, corresponding to an error of ~1.5% relative to the entire IC structure (~4-5 mm diameter sphere). Furthermore, the reconstructed frequency laminae of the IC were consistently aligned across three sampled midbrains, demonstrating the ability to use our method to combine location data across animals. Hopefully, through further improvements in our reconstruction method, it can be used as a standard protocol across neurophysiology labs to characterize neural data not only within the IC but also within other brain regions to help bridge the gap between cellular activity and network function. Clinically, correlating function with location within and across multiple brain regions can guide optimal placement of electrodes for the growing field of neural prosthetics.


deep brain stimulation; histology; imaging; inferior colliculus; neural prosthesis; population coding; reconstruction; tonotopy

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