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SmartBox 2.0: Displaying Multiple Probes

March 16, 2016

The long-awaited version 2.0 SmartBox software is almost available. As detailed in the last entry, one of the useful new features of the Version 2.0 software is that it is equipped to automatically map any NeuroNexus probe, allowing users to take full advantage of the spatial benefits of multi-channel microelectrode arrays with maximum convenience during experiments.

But what if you want to record using more than one electrode at the same time? The SmartBox has four entry ports for different headstages, meaning that you could record from up to four probes simultaneously using a single SmartBox. For example, you might want to do penetrating recordings down into a particular brain area while simultaneously doing ECOG recordings at the surface. Alternatively, it might be of interest to place multiple penetrating probes into different structures (Figure 1).

SmartBox 02 MultipleProbes 1

Figure 1: Two microelectrode arrays implanted in different structures for simultaneous recordings.

This type of multi-level, multi-area recording could potentially yield key information about brain interaction mechanisms that aren’t readily apparent when recording from only one location. But while much of the analysis for such an experiment may be done offline after the fact, one still needs some feedback during the actual experiment.

The SmartBox 2.0 software is equipped to handle these types of recordings in an elegant way, displaying the detailed mapping information on different panels with the option to concentrate pertinent information into a single display. Let’s walk through an example, where simultaneous recordings are being done through a 4x8 penetrating array and a 32-channel surface array.

In Figure 2 we see a screenshot from the SmartBox 2.0 software with two probes implanted, displaying information from the probe in port A. The first place to look is in the upper-left corner, which shows a graphical display of the front of a SmartBox with a blue circle and two of the four entry ports lit up. The blue circle indicates that the SmartBox is on, and the two lit entry ports indicate where two headstages are plugged in. Directly below that display is a status box, which confirms that the SmartBox status is “Connected” and that there is a 32-channel probe in each of ports A and B. On the opposite side of the screen, in the upper right corner, the letter ‘A’ indicates that the probe in port A is currently being displayed. To the left of that ‘A’ is the box indicating that the probe on display is an A4x8 probe, and below that is the graphical representation of that probe with the sites shown in the correctly mapped orientation. Finally, in the central panel, the streaming waveforms are labeled “AMP-A1-0xx” where ‘xx’ is the channel number from the probe in port A.

SmartBox 02 MultipleProbes 2

Figure 2: Screenshot of SmartBox 2.0 software with two probes implanted, displaying information from the probe in port A.

In Figure 3, we see a screen capture of the same recording set-up, showing the probe in port B. The information on the right side of the screen is the same, but in the upper right corner the display is now labeled ‘B’, and the probe box displays that the probe being shown is an E32-600-10-100 surface probe. And in the central panel, the waveforms are now labeled “Amp-B1-0yy” where the ‘yy’ is the channel number of the probe in port B.

SmartBox 02 MultipleProbes 3

Figure 3: SmartBox 2.0 software with two probes implanted, displaying information from the probe in port B.

Finally, in Figure 4 we see a screen capture showing shared information across the two probes. The central panel is still showing streamed data, but the top-3, colored traces were selected by the user as of interest. One of the chosen traces (red) came from the probe in port A, while the other two (green) were from the probe in port B and are labeled as such. The probe in port B is still shown in this display, with the user selected sites highlighted, and with a quick push of the left arrow in the upper right portion of the screen the display would shift to the probe in port A with the red site highlighted.

SmartBox 02 MultipleProbes 4

Figure 4: SmartBox 2.0 software with two probes implanted, displaying shared information from the probes in ports A and B.

The SmartBox 2.0 software is designed to make life easier for those during neural recordings. This is just one example, but it helps illustrate that using the SmartBox to record from NeuroNexus probes will allow users to maximize the convenience, utility, and power of their neural data acquisition experiments.

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See the SmartBox in Action

Visit our YouTube playlist to learn more about hardware setup, recording with the SmartBox, and more.

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On the Blog:


SmartBox 2.0: Mapping for Spike Identification

SmartBox 01 Mapping Cropped

The SmartBox 2.0 software integrates probe mapping into the recording user interface, providing extremely convenient spike identification during recording.

Visit the blog to learn more