We describe a custom-designed bio-amplifier and its use in teaching neurophysiology to undergraduate students. The amplifier has the following features: 1) differential amplification with driven shield inputs, which makes it workable even in electrically unshielded environments, 2) high input impedance to allow recordings of small signals through high signal source impedance, 3) dual fixed frequency bandpass filters (1-340Hz for surface EMG, EEG, local field potential etc and 320Hz - 3.4kHz for neuronal action potential recording) and independent gain controllers (up to x107,000) to allow the recording of different signals from the same source (e.g., local field potential and spiking activity of neurons), and 4) printed circuit board technology for easy replication with consistent quality. We compared its performance with a commercial amplifier in an electrically noisy environment. Even without any electrostatic shield, it recorded clear electromyographic activity with little interference from other electric appliances. In contrast, the commercial amplifier's performance severely deteriorated under the same condition. We used this amplifier to build a computer-controlled stimulation and measurement system for electroencephalographic recordings by undergraduate students. The students successfully recorded various sensory evoked potentials with clarity that otherwise would have required costly instruments. This amplifier is a low-cost yet reliable instrument for electro-physiological recording both in education and research.
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