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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering
SJR: 0.207 SNIP: 0.376 CiteScore™: 0.79

ISSN Imprimir: 0278-940X
ISSN On-line: 1943-619X

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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.2014010788
pages 435-456

Biological, Mechanical, and Technological Considerations Affecting the Longevity of Intracortical Electrode Recordings

James P. Harris
Center for Brain Injury and Repair, Department of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Dustin J. Tyler
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; Rehabilitation Research and Development, L. Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, Cleveland, OH


Intracortical electrodes are important tools, with applications ranging from fundamental laboratory studies to potential solutions to intractable clinical applications. However, the longevity and reliability of the interfaces remain their major limitation to the wider implementation and adoption of this technology, especially in broader translational work. Accordingly, this review summarizes the most significant biological and technical factors influencing the long-term performance of intracortical electrodes. In a laboratory setting, intracortical electrodes have been used to study the normal and abnormal function of the brain. This improved understanding has led to valuable insights regarding many neurological conditions. Likewise, clinical applications of intracortical brain-machine interfaces offer the ability to improve the quality of life of many patients afflicted with high-level paralysis from spinal cord injury, brain stem stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or other conditions. It is widely hypothesized that the tissue response to the electrodes, including inflammation, limits their longevity. Many studies have examined and modified the tissue response to intracortical electrodes to improve future intracortical electrode technologies. Overall, the relationship between biological, mechanical, and technological considerations are crucial for the fidelity of chronic electrode recordings and represent a presently active area of investigation in the field of neural engineering.

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