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J Vis Exp. 2014 Feb 14;(84):e51004. doi: 10.3791/51004.

A procedure for implanting organized arrays of microwires for single-unit recordings in awake, behaving animals.

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Department of Psychology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Neuronal Networks Section, Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Department of Psychology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey;


In vivo electrophysiological recordings in the awake, behaving animal provide a powerful method for understanding neural signaling at the single-cell level. The technique allows experimenters to examine temporally and regionally specific firing patterns in order to correlate recorded action potentials with ongoing behavior. Moreover, single-unit recordings can be combined with a plethora of other techniques in order to produce comprehensive explanations of neural function. In this article, we describe the anesthesia and preparation for microwire implantation. Subsequently, we enumerate the necessary equipment and surgical steps to accurately insert a microwire array into a target structure. Lastly, we briefly describe the equipment used to record from each individual electrode in the array. The fixed microwire arrays described are well-suited for chronic implantation and allow for longitudinal recordings of neural data in almost any behavioral preparation. We discuss tracing electrode tracks to triangulate microwire positions as well as ways to combine microwire implantation with immunohistochemical techniques in order to increase the anatomical specificity of recorded results.

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