Application of active electrode compensation to perform continuous voltage-clamp recordings with sharp microelectrodes

Jose Gomez-Gonzalez, Alain Destexhe and Thierry Bal

Journal of Neural Engineering 11: 056028, 2014.

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Objective: Electrophysiological recordings of single neurons in brain tissues are very common in neuroscience. Glass microelectrodes filled with an electrolyte are used to impale the cell membrane in order to record the membrane potential or to inject current. Their high resistance induces a high voltage drop when passing current and it is essential to correct the voltage measurements. In particular, for voltage clamping, the traditional alternatives are two-electrode voltage-clamp technique or discontinuous single electrode voltage-clamp (dSEVC). Nevertheless, it is generally difficult to impale two electrodes in a same neuron and the switching frequency is limited to low frequencies in the case of dSEVC. We present a novel fully computer-implemented alternative to perform continuous voltage-clamp recordings with a single sharp-electrode.

Approach: To reach such voltage-clamp recordings, we combine an active electrode compensation algorithm (AEC) with a digital controller (AECVC).

Main results: We applied two types of control-systems: a linear controller (proportional plus integrative controller) and a model-based controller (optimal control). We compared the performance of the two methods to dSEVC using a dynamic model cell and experiments in brain slices.

Significance: The AECVC method provides an entirely digital method to perform continuous recording and smooth switching between voltage-clamp, current clamp or dynamic-clamp configurations without introducing artifacts.

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