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New Neuropixels probes can record activity in large brains

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06/08/23 | New Neuropixels probes can record activity in large brains

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A new version of the Neuropixels probes enables simultaneous recording of the activity of hundreds of neurons in the brains of large animals. The new Neuropixels 1.0-NHP probes, developed by Janelia scientists and HHMI collaborators in partnership with imec, are detailed in a new preprint on bioRxiv.

Neuropixels probes, first released in 2017, contain a thin, 10-millimeter-long probe outfitted with hundreds of electrodes that, when inserted into the brains of small animals, can record the activity of hundreds of neurons at once.

The probes have been a boon for neuroscientists investigating how cells and circuits in the brain work together to process information, with hundreds of labs worldwide using the probes to study neural activity in rodents, and at least 18 other animals.

The new Neuropixels 1.0-NHP extends this technology for use in larger animal brains, like those of macaques, by using longer probes – 25 millimeters and 45 millimeters long -- that can access deep structures in larger brains. 

The new probes fill a niche in neuroscience, where up until now, researchers studying large animals used large, invasive probes to record the neural activity from dozens of neurons. Neuropixels 1.0-NHP, which are much smaller and less invasive, can record from hundreds of neurons simultaneously.

By allowing researchers to record the activity from hundreds of individual neurons in a single session, it will be possible to study brain function in large animals in greater detail and reduce the time needed for experiments.

Much in the way the original Neuropixels probes changed electrophysiology in rodents, the developers believe the new probes, which are already yielding results, could potentially transform primate neuroscience research.

Neuropixels probes were developed by Janelia researchers and HHMI Investigators Tirin Moore, Michael Shadlen, Doris Tsao and the late Krishna Shenoy, and designed and fabricated in collaboration with imec.



Eric M. Trautmann, Janis K. Hesse, Gabriel M. Stine, Ruobing Xia, Shude Zhu, Daniel J. O’Shea, Bill Karsh, Jennifer Colonell, Frank F. Lanfranchi, Saurabh Vyas, Andrew Zimnik, Natalie A. Steinmann, Daniel A. Wagenaar, Alexandru Andrei, Carolina Mora Lopez, John O’Callaghan, Jan Putzeys, Bogdan C. Raducanu, Marleen Welkenhuysen, Mark Churchland, Tirin Moore, Michael Shadlen, Krishna Shenoy, Doris Tsao, Barundeb Dutta, and Timothy Harris. “Large-scale high-density brain-wide neural recording in nonhuman primates.” Posted on on May 4, 2023. DOI: 10.1101/2023.02.01.526664