Assessment of Corticospinal Excitability in Awake Rodents Using EMG-Controlled Intracortical Stimulation.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Bio Protoc, Volume 11, Issue 24, p.e4267 (2021)


<p>Assessment of corticospinal excitability (CSE) is an essential component of experiments designed to induce or study neuronal plasticity in the motor system. Common examples are paired associative stimulation (PAS), theta-burst stimulation (TBS), intensive motor training, or any methods aimed at potentiating the corticomotor system in the hope of promoting better recovery after neurological insult. To date, rodent models of CSE assessment have mostly been completed under anaesthesia, which greatly affects the level of CSE, as well as the mechanisms of plasticity. Experiments in awake animals are difficult because the ongoing state of behavior affects the excitability of the motor system and complicates the assessment of CSE. To address this issue, we have designed a novel approach for CSE assessment in awake behaving rodents, enabling a reliable measure of evoked motor responses obtained from cortical microstimulation in repeatable conditions of ongoing motor activity. The system relies on chronically implanted intracortical and intramuscular electrodes and a custom-made software control system, enabling the user to require that precise parameters of EMG activity be met before cortical stimulation probes are delivered. This approach could be used for further studies of PAS, TBS or other interventions requiring the assessment of CSE under repeatable conditions. We provide fabrication schematics and a list of materials for the implant, as well as instructions for running a custom-made MATLAB codebase, customizing the PAS protocol, and performing the complete analysis of experimental data. We hope these tools can further facilitate animal research in the field of neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation.</p>

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