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In-cell recordings by extracellular microelectrodes


Current extracellular multisite recordings suffer from low signal-to-noise ratio, limiting the monitoring to action potentials, and preclude detection of subthreshold synaptic potentials. Here we report an approach to induce Aplysia californica neurons to actively engulf protruding microelectrodes, providing 'in-cell recordings' of subthreshold synaptic and action potentials with signal-to-noise ratio that matches that of conventional intracellular recordings. Implementation of this approach may open new vistas in neuroscience and biomedical applications.

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Figure 1: The structural configuration of a neuron engulfing a functionalized gold-spine electrode and the ensuing electrical coupling.
Figure 2: 'In-cell recordings' by an extracellular gold-spine electrode.
Figure 3: Synaptic potentials and action potentials recorded by extracellular functionalized gold-spine electrodes (FGSEs).


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This work was supported by the “Brain Storm” project (EU P7 215486 STREP). Parts of the study were carried out at the Charles E. Smith and ProfessorElkes Laboratory for Collaborative Research in Psychobiology. The fabrication of the gold spines electrode was carried at the Harvey M. Kruger Family center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. We thank N. Mazurski for expertise in device fabrication. M.E.S. is the Levi DeViali Professor in neurobiology. A.H. was partially supported by a scholarship from The Israel Council for Higher Education.

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A.H. and M.E.S. designed and conducted all experiments, analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. J.S. designed fabrication processes and took part in the analysis of the data.

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Correspondence to Micha E Spira.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Hai, A., Shappir, J. & Spira, M. In-cell recordings by extracellular microelectrodes. Nat Methods 7, 200–202 (2010).

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