Predicting neural recording performance of implantable electrodes†
Recordings of neural activity can be used to aid communication, control prosthetic devices or alleviate disease symptoms. Chronic recordings require a high signal-to-noise ratio that is stable for years. Current cortical devices generally fail within months to years after implantation. Development of novel devices to increase lifetime requires valid testing protocols and a knowledge of the critical parameters controlling electrophysiological performance. Here we present electrochemical and electrophysiological protocols for assessing implantable electrodes. Biological noise from neural recording has significant impact on signal-to-noise ratio. A recently developed surgical approach was utilised to reduce biological noise. This allowed correlation of electrochemical and electrophysiological behaviour. The impedance versus frequency of modified electrodes was non-linear. It was found that impedance at low frequencies was a stronger predictor of electrophysiological performance than the typically reported impedance at 1 kHz. Low frequency impedance is a function of electrode area, and a strong correlation of electrode area with electrophysiological response was also seen. Use of these standardised testing protocols will allow future devices to be compared before transfer to preclinical and clinical trials.