An international team of researchers has developed a silicon brain probe that can gather neuronal activity at an unprecedented resolution. The device, called Neuropixel, described in the latest version of Nature, is a thin needle with an unbelievable 960 electrodes that record brain signals. The resolution is at a single neuron level. Because at 10 mm the device is relatively long, it can be placed across perhaps the entire mouse brain to monitor both high density localized activity, as well as what’s happening across a larger part of the brain, to probe the connections and relationships that exist between different areas.
“To understand the brain we need to understand how a lot of neurons spread all over the brain work together. Until recently, it was possible to measure the activity of individual neurons within a specific spot in the brain or to reveal larger, regional patterns of activity—but not to do both at the same time,” in a statement said co-author Professor Matteo Carandini, University College London.
At one of the first studies using the Neuropixel, which has already been distributed to dozens of neuroscientists, the technology was used to monitor the activity of more than 700 individual neurons throughout five distinctive areas of the brain. Moreover, the investigators were able to continuously record such brain activity within living mice for months at a time, which is sad for lab mice but a great achievement for mankind.
Here’s a video about the technology from the Wellcome Trust, one of the sponsors of the research: