The capability for multisite stimulation is one of the biggest potential advantages of microelectrode arrays (MEAs). There remain, however, several technical problems which have hindered the development of a practical stimulation system. An important design goal is to allow programmable multisite stimulation, which produces minimal interference with simultaneous extracellular and patch or whole cell clamp recording. Here, we describe a multisite stimulation and recording system with novel interface circuit modules, in which preamplifiers and transistor transistor logic-driven solid-state switching devices are integrated. This integration permits PC-controlled remote switching of each substrate electrode. This allows not only flexible selection of stimulation sites, but also rapid switching of the selected sites between stimulation and recording, within 1.2 ms. This allowed almost continuous monitoring of extracellular signals at all the substrate-embedded electrodes, including those used for stimulation. In addition, the vibration-free solid-state switching made it possible to record whole-cell synaptic currents in one neuron, evoked from multiple sites in the network. We have used this system to visualize spatial propagation patterns of evoked responses in cultured networks of cortical neurons. This MEA-based stimulation system is a useful tool for studying neuronal signal processing in biological neuronal networks, as well as the process of synaptic integration within single neurons.
- Electrical stimulation