Brain News – Researchers have discovered a tool called Neuropixels to record brain activity in humans. This discovery can have significant implications for the field of neuroscience.
Scientists have recently created a tool called Neuropixels for recording the activity of brain cells or neurons.
The original Neuropixels tool was devised in 2017 by IMEC (a digital technology company in Belgium), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Janelia Research Campus. It used smaller electrodes for recording brain activity and was designed to be a research tool in a lab for small animals like rodents. It recorded brain activity in bulk, because of which the quality of recordings was poor.
The tool, however, was not meant to be used for human subjects. But, it triggered the interests of neuroscientists and they proposed some modifications. For instance, the probe of the device was made thicker for the larger human brain.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and colleagues at other institutions carried forward this experiment on human subjects. The findings from their path-breaking study are now published in Nature Neuroscience.
They used the modified device to record brain activity in 9 human patients undergoing neurosurgery. Though initially unsuccessful, the researchers were able to record 202 individual neurons in 3 patients, who were being operated for epilepsy treatment and brain implants.
Such new higher-resolution tools can have far-reaching significance for neuroscientific research. These tools can capture, with great clarity, the diversity of brain cell activity. It can help us understand better how the brain circuits function, individually and collectively.
These insights can lead to a better understanding of how our brain functions and of our cognitive abilities. It can also help researchers look deeper into the origins and treatment of neurological diseases, like epilepsy and brain tumor.
Most importantly, this research can help developers of scientific tools create computers and robotic devices that disabled people can use with their brains. This in turn can help them live independent and normal lives.
Indeed, it is as one of the lead authors, Angelique Paulk, puts it, “The Neuropixels device has revolutionized the field of neuroscience.”
To Know More You May Relate To
Paulk, A.C., Kfir, Y., Khanna, A.R. et al. Large-scale neural recordings with single neuron resolution using Neuropixels probes in human cortex. Nat Neurosci 25, 252–263 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-021-00997-0