Breakthrough for flexible electrode implants in the brain

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have been developed implantable electrodes that can capture signals from a living human (or) animal brain over a long period of time, but without causing brain tissue damage.

This bio-medical tech will make it possible to monitor and eventually understand brain function in both healthy and diseased people.

Researcher Jens Schouenborg PhD said:

“There are 2 big problems that must be solved for scientists to be able to record signals from the brain with good results. First, the electrode must be bio-friendly, that means it can’t cause any significant damage to the brain tissue. Second, the electrode must be flexible inside the brain tissue.”

Remember that the brain floats in fluid inside the skull, it moves around when we do any activity: like breathe, walk, or just turn our head. The electrode and the implantation tech that we made have both of these important properties. So our design is highly specialized.

The researchers named their tailored electrodes “3D electrodes.” They’re extremely soft + flexible, so they can make stable recordings of electrical activity in brain tissue over a long time.

Their electrode is so soft that it bends when it touches a watery surface. To implant it, the team developed a technique that encapsulates the electrodes in a hard, but dissolvable, gelatin material, that’s also very gentle on the brain’s delicate tissue.

The tiny strands of electrodes bundled together into a broom-like shape, that’s encased in gelatin. That gelatin is hard enough to implant into the brain’s tissue. Then the gelatin melts-away, leaving the electrode array in-place, intact, without damage.

Team researcher Johan Agorelius said:

This tech retains the electrodes in their original form inside the brain. It can monitor what happens internally without disturbing well-functioning brain tissue.