Large-scale mapping of cortical synaptic projections with extracellular electrode arrays

Mark Shein-Idelson, Lorenz Pammer, Mike Hemberger, Gilles Laurent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Understanding circuit computation in the nervous system requires sampling activity over large neural populations and maximizing the number of features that can be extracted. By combining planar arrays of extracellular electrodes with the three-layered cortex of turtles, we show that synaptic signals induced along individual axons as well as action potentials can be easily captured. Two types of information can be extracted from these signals, the neuronal subtype (inhibitory or excitatory) - whose identification is more reliable than with traditional measures such as action potential width - and a (partial) spatial map of functional axonal projections from individual neurons. Because our approach is algorithmic, it can be carried out in parallel on hundreds of simultaneously recorded neurons. Combining our approach with soma triangulation, we reveal an axonal projection bias among a population of pyramidal neurons in turtle cortex and confirm this bias through anatomical reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-890
Number of pages9
JournalNature Methods
Issue number9
StatePublished - 31 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
EU’s 7th framework agreementFP7/2007-2013, 322705
European Research Council
Minerva Foundation
Boehringer Ingelheim France


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