Higher Resolution Electrodes Improve Our Understanding Human Brain, Cognition, and Neurological Pathologies



Neuroscience is experiencing an exciting era of integrating novel materials and tools to record neural activity made possible through significant advances in materials science, electrical engineering, and computer science. Certain technologies integrating these advances, such as Neuropixels, has exponentially moved forward our understanding of brain function in rodents and other model systems. However, even though current standards recording from human brain cells in vivo have provided incredible insight into how the human brain works in the past 30 years, the shift from lower spatial resolution (e.g. single channel, contact to contact spacing >150 µm) to higher spatial resolution technologies (contact to contact spacing <150 µm) in recording single cell activity has not been broadly adopted in the human recording studies. Reasons can include regulatory and safety concerns as well as questions of whether these advanced, high-resolution technologies can offer anything more than what has been working for many researchers and clinical teams for decades.  I will attempt to lay out a series of studies we performed at multiple institutes including MGH that may paint a picture of the type and kind of neural activity these new tools could provide even in the operating room setting ranging from basic science to clinically relevant studies. In addition, I will discuss some of the challenges we had in implementing, and translating, these technologies for use in humans as well as try to answer questions on what these tools can offer in advancing our understanding of human single neurons.

Learning Objectives:

1. Define the limitations and challenges in current clinical brain recording devices in characterizing human brain activity.

2. Identify various challenges in translating novel neural recording devices to recording from the human brain in the clinical domain.

3. Define the clinically and scientifically relevant advances in our knowledge of the brain afforded by bringing these technologies into the human brain recording domain.

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