Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 107–119

The Effects of Prolonged Intracortical Microstimulation on the Excitability of Pyramidal Tract Neurons in the Cat


  • Douglas B. McCreery
    • Neural Engineering LaboratoryHuntington Medical Research Institutes
  • William F. Agnew
    • Neural Engineering LaboratoryHuntington Medical Research Institutes
  • Leo A. Bullara
    • Neural Engineering LaboratoryHuntington Medical Research Institutes

DOI: 10.1114/1.1430748

Cite this article as:
McCreery, D.B., Agnew, W.F. & Bullara, L.A. Annals of Biomedical Engineering (2002) 30: 107. doi:10.1114/1.1430748


This study was conducted to examine the excitability changes induced in cerebral cortical neurons during prolonged microstimulation with a spatially dense microelectrodes array. The arrays of 16 iridium microelectrodes were implanted chronically into the postcruciate gyrus of cats. Neuronal responses characteristic of single pyramidal tract axons (ULRs) were recorded in the medullary pyramid. 7 h of pulsing of individual electrodes at 50 Hz and at 4 nC/ph induced little or no change in the ULRs' electrical thresholds. The thresholds also were quite stable when 4 of the 16 microelectrodes were pulsed on each of 14 consecutive days. However, when all 16 microelectrodes were pulsed for 7 h at 4 nC/ph, the threshold of approximately half of the ULRs became elevated. Recovery of excitability required 2–18 days. Prolonged sequential (interleaved) pulsing of the 16 microelectrodes induced less depression of excitability than did simultaneous pulsing, but only when the stimulus amplitude was low (12 A, 1.8 nC/ph). Stimulation at a higher amplitude (15 nC/ph) induced much more depression of excitability. These findings imply that multiple processes mediate the stimulation-induced depression of neuronal excitability. The data also demonstrate that the depression can be reduced by employing a stimulus regimen in which the inherent spatial resolution of the array is maximized (sequential pulsing at an amplitude in which there is minimal overlap of the effective current fields). © 2002 Biomedical Engineering Society.

PAC2002: 8719La

Neural prosthesesChronically implanted microelectrodesCerebral cortexProlonged electrical stimulationDepression of neuronal excitability
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© Biomedical Engineering Society 2002