Conformal Electrode Arrays to Enable in Vivo Recordings of the Enteric Nervous System
Flores, Pedro Emanuel Roca
Voit, Walter E.
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Statement of Purpose: The enteric nervous system (ENS) has the largest population of neurons in the peripheral nervous system, but it is not well understood and is less investigated than the central nervous system. Most of the information on the function and electrophysiology of the ENS was collected ex vivo, either on pathological samples or in cell cultures. Major problems when attaching neural electrodes to the gut, e.g. the small intestine, are that the tissue is of soft muscle, the geometry and its surface topology are complex, and it is constantly moving. Thus, conventional stiff electrodes and nerve cuffs cannot conform to the gut surface and are susceptible to motion artifacts since they will be moving relative to the bowel. Here, we demonstrate that the problems caused by conventional, stiff electrodes can be solved with the use of a thin-film electrode array fabricated on a self-softening polymeric substrate material. The hypothesis is that the polymer is capable of softening and changing its shape, so that the device can adapt to the shape and surface topology of its surroundings. It will wrap tightly around the gut, securing the electrodes in place to enable continuous periodic in vivo recordings of neurons from the myenteric and submucosal plexus within the small intestine. © 2019 Omnipress - All rights reserved.
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