Dotson NM, Salazar RF, Goodell AB, Hoffman SJ, Gray CM (2015). Methods, caveats, and the future of large-scale microelectrode recordings in the non-human primate. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9, 149.
Cognitive processes play out on massive brain-wide networks, which produce widely distributed patterns of activity. Capturing these activity patterns requires tools that are able to simultaneously measure activity from many distributed sites with high spatiotemporal resolution. Unfortunately, current techniques with adequate coverage do not provide the requisite spatiotemporal resolution. Large-scale microelectrode recording devices, with dozens to hundreds of microelectrodes capable of simultaneously recording from nearly as many cortical and subcortical areas, provide a potential way to minimize these tradeoffs. However, placing hundreds of microelectrodes into a behaving animal is a highly risky and technically challenging endeavor that has only been pursued by a few groups. Recording activity from multiple electrodes simultaneously also introduces several statistical and conceptual dilemmas, such as the multiple comparisons problem and the uncontrolled stimulus response problem. In this perspective article, we discuss some of the techniques that we, and others, have developed for collecting and analyzing large-scale data sets, and address the future of this emerging field.