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Front Neurol. 2014 Jul 7;5:104. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00104. eCollection 2014.

Microelectrode array recordings from the ventral roots in chronically implanted cats.

Author information

1
Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, PA , USA.
2
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, PA , USA.
3
Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, PA , USA ; Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, PA , USA.

Abstract

The ventral spinal roots contain the axons of spinal motoneurons and provide the only location in the peripheral nervous system where recorded neural activity can be assured to be motor rather than sensory. This study demonstrates recordings of single unit activity from these ventral root axons using floating microelectrode arrays (FMAs). Ventral root recordings were characterized by examining single unit yield and signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) with 32-channel FMAs implanted chronically in the L6 and L7 spinal roots of nine cats. Single unit recordings were performed for implant periods of up to 12 weeks. Motor units were identified based on active discharge during locomotion and inactivity under anesthesia. Motor unit yield and SNR were calculated for each electrode, and results were grouped by electrode site size, which were varied systematically between 25 and 160 μm to determine effects on signal quality. The unit yields and SNR did not differ significantly across this wide range of electrode sizes. Both SNR and yield decayed over time, but electrodes were able to record spikes with SNR >2 up to 12 weeks post-implant. These results demonstrate that it is feasible to record single unit activity from multiple isolated motor units with penetrating microelectrode arrays implanted chronically in the ventral spinal roots. This approach could be useful for creating a spinal nerve interface for advanced neural prostheses, and results of this study will be used to improve design of microelectrodes for chronic neural recording in the ventral spinal roots.

KEYWORDS:

impedance; motor neuron; peripheral nerve interface; single unit recording; ventral root

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