Aug 14, 2017 | By Tess

A team from the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology (KNTU) in Tehran, Iran has developed a new and minimally invasive neural recording device with the help of 3D printing. The device enables a new method for micro-electrocorticography (μECoG), which is capable of electrically recording extracellular neuronal activity from the brain’s surface.

Electrocorticography (ECoG) is a process wherein scientists monitor electrical activity in the cerebral cortex by placing electrodes directly onto the brain’s surface. The process, which was introduced in the 1950s, has been used for a number of different applications, including to identify epileptogenic zones in presurgical planning, mapping cortical functions, and more.

The KNTU researchers, who have recently undertaken the development of the third generation of the μECoG system, say the novel approach offers a “higher temporal and spatial resolution” than electroencephalography (also known as EEG), and is less invasive than other processes such as intra-cortical neural recording.

The third generation of the μECoG system consists of two separate modules: an external host, and a semi-implantable recording mechanism. The latter is made up of a microelectrode array (MEA), electronic circuitry, a radio frequency (RF) transmitter, and rechargeable batteries.

The external host system, for its part, includes an RF receiver, a protocol converter and computer interfacing block, and a post-processing and graphical interfacing software program. The RF components of both modules enable the brain activity information to be transmitted using data telemetry.

Notably, the recording component of the μECoG system is housed within a 3D printed casing. The research team devised a bio-compatible substrate using 3D printing and micro-drilling, which can accommodate the MEA, batteries, and a number of printed circuit boards (PCBs) which themselves contain the electronic circuitry.

Within the small 3D printed and bi-cubical structure (which measures 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.2 cm), all the recording components are stacked up on top of each other. When in use, the device is capable of “recording neuronal activities from the surface of the brain on eight individual channels in parallel.”

The recording from all eight channels are then sent to the external host through a wireless connection, where they are then processed and analyzed. The novel method for neural recording can have applications in the fields of brain-machine interfacing (BMI) and brain mapping.

So far, the new μECoG system has undergone and passed numerous functional tests with pre-recorded neural data, as well as a number of in-vivo electrophysiological experiments. These experiments included testing the MEA and electronic circuitry in the context of the Seizure Laboratory at Tehran’s Tarbiat Modares University.

The innovative project is being funded in part through a grant from KNTU, and in part through the Iranian Cognitive Sciences and Technologies Council (CSTC).



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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