In vivo microelectrode track reconstruction using magnetic resonance imaging

S. H. Fung, D. Burstein, R. T. Born

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


To obtain more precise anatomical information about cortical sites of microelectrode recording and microstimulation experiments in alert animals, we have developed a non-invasive, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for reconstructing microelectrode tracks. We made microelectrode penetrations in the brains of anesthetized rats and marked sites along them by depositing metal, presumably iron, with anodic monophasic or biphasic current from the tip of a stainless steel microelectrode. The metal deposits were clearly visible in the living animal as approximately 200 μm wide hypointense punctate marks using gradient echo sequences in a 4.7T MRI scanner. We confirmed the MRI findings by comparing them directly to the postmortem histology in which the iron in the deposits could be rendered visible with a Prussian blue reaction. MRI-visible marks could be created using currents as low as 1 μA (anodic) for 5 s, and they remained stable in the brains of living rats for up to nine months. We were able to make marks using either direct current or biphasic current pulses. Biphasic pulses caused less tissue damage and were similar to those used by many laboratories for functional microstimulation studies in the brains of alert monkeys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-224
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 30 1998


  • Alert animals
  • Chronic electrophysiology
  • Cortical mapping
  • Functional architecture
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Microstimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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