Whole-Cell Recordings in Freely Moving Rats

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Intracellular recording, which allows direct measurement of the membrane potential and currents of individual neurons, requires a very mechanically stable preparation and has thus been limited to in vitro and head-immobilized in vivo experiments. This restriction constitutes a major obstacle for linking cellular and synaptic physiology with animal behavior. To overcome this limitation we have developed a method for performing whole-cell recordings in freely moving rats. We constructed a miniature head-mountable recording device, with mechanical stabilization achieved by anchoring the recording pipette rigidly in place after the whole-cell configuration is established. We obtain long-duration recordings (mean of ∼20 min, maximum 60 min) in freely moving animals that are remarkably insensitive to mechanical disturbances, then reconstruct the anatomy of the recorded cells. This head-anchored whole-cell recording technique will enable a wide range of new studies involving detailed measurement and manipulation of the physiological properties of identified cells during natural behaviors. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Lee, A. K., Manns, I. D., Sakmann, B., & Brecht, M. (2006). Whole-Cell Recordings in Freely Moving Rats. Neuron, 51(4), 399–407. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2006.07.004

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