Editors' ChoiceNeuroengineering

Your Brain, in HD

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Science Translational Medicine  18 Jan 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 117, pp. 117ec11
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003697

Trending now in the electronics world is “high definition” (HD), as in HD television or video. For TV, HD offers high spatial and temporal resolution so we can see each touchdown or explosion in great detail. For neuroscientists, HD recording of brain activity offers more resolution than the standard cortical surface electrodes, as described recently by Viventi et al.

Viventi and coauthors developed an electrode recording device with several unique features. First, 360 electrodes were packed at a high density, offering spatial resolution of ~0.5 mm, which is much finer than the 10-mm resolution commonly used in the clinic. Second, the electrode array had on-board multiplexing capability, wherein only a small number of wires (rather than all 360) were needed to carry brain signals to a recording device. Third, the array was flexible and foldable to better conform to the brain surface and could even be folded and inserted into sulci (fissures). With all these features, Viventi et al. were able to obtain in vivo brain recordings in HD by using their electrode array. For instance, they discovered spiral patterns of brain activity during artificially induced seizures—a phenomenon often linked to heart arrhythmia, but new to brain electrophysiology. Further studies using such HD brain recordings could provide new insights into the mechanisms of epileptic activity.

This new electrode-based device will find application in both basic research and clinical practice: A neuroscientist could study the spatiotemporal dynamics of brain activity; a biomedical engineer could develop a better brain-machine interface; a neurologist could accurately identify the foci of a patient’s seizure. Whatever the application, it is clear that such HD technology will be trendy to both electronics consumers and neurologists alike.

J. Viventi et al., Flexible, foldable, actively multiplexed, high-density electrode array for mapping brain activity in vivo. Nat. Neurosci. 14, 1599–1605 (2011). [Abstract]

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