Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 463–481 | Cite as

Comparison of neural damage induced by electrical stimulation with faradaic and capacitor electrodes

  • D. B. McCreery
  • W. F. Agnew
  • T. G. H. Yuen
  • L. A. Bullara


Arrays of platinum (faradaic) and anodized, sintered tantalum pentoxide (capacitor) electrodes were implanted bilaterally in the subdural space of the parietal cortex of the cat. Two weeks after implantation both types of electrodes were pulsed for seven hours with identical waveforms consisting of controlled-current, chargebalanced, symmetric, anodic-first pulse pairs, 400 μsec/phase and a charge density of 80–100 μC/cm2 (microcoulombs per square cm) at 50 pps (pulses per second). One group of animals was sacrificed immediately following stimulation and a second smaller group one week after stimulation. Tissues beneath both types of pulsed electrodes were damaged, but the difference in damage for the two electrode types was not statistically significant. Tissue beneath unpulsed electrodes was normal. At the ultrastructural level, in animals killed immediately after stimulation, shrunken and hyperchromic neurons were intermixed with neurons showing early intracellular edema. Glial cells appeared essentially normal. In animals killed one week after stimulation most of the damaged neurons had recovered, but the presence of shrunken, vacuolated and degenerating neurons showed that some of the cells were damaged irreversibly. It is concluded that most of the neural damage from stimulations of the brain surface at the level used in this study derives from processes associated with passage of the stimulus current through tissue, such as neuronal hyperactivity rather than electrochemical reactions associated with current injection across the electrode-tissue interface, since such reactions occur only with the faradaic electrodes.


Electrical stimulation Neural damage Capacitor electrode 


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Copyright information

© Pergamon Press plc 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. B. McCreery
    • 1
  • W. F. Agnew
    • 1
  • T. G. H. Yuen
    • 1
  • L. A. Bullara
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurological Research LaboratoryHuntington Medical Research InstitutesPasadena

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