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Understanding how the brain operates requires understanding how large sets of neurons function together. Modern recording technology makes it possible to simultaneously record the activity of hundreds of neurons, and technological developments will soon allow recording of thousands or tens of thousands. As with all experimental techniques, these methods are subject to confounds that complicate the interpretation of such recordings, and could lead to erroneous scientific conclusions. Here we discuss methods for assessing and improving the quality of data from these techniques and outline likely future directions in this field.