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Nat Protoc. 2016 Apr;11(4):634-54. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2016.007. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Assembly and operation of the autopatcher for automated intracellular neural recording in vivo.

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Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Departments of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Whole-cell patch clamping in vivo is an important neuroscience technique that uniquely provides access to both suprathreshold spiking and subthreshold synaptic events of single neurons in the brain. This article describes how to set up and use the autopatcher, which is a robot for automatically obtaining high-yield and high-quality whole-cell patch clamp recordings in vivo. By following this protocol, a functional experimental rig for automated whole-cell patch clamping can be set up in 1 week. High-quality surgical preparation of mice takes ∼1 h, and each autopatching experiment can be carried out over periods lasting several hours. Autopatching should enable in vivo intracellular investigations to be accessible by a substantial number of neuroscience laboratories, and it enables labs that are already doing in vivo patch clamping to scale up their efforts by reducing training time for new lab members and increasing experimental durations by handling mentally intensive tasks automatically.

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