Characterization of the effects of the human dura on macro- and micro-electrocorticographic recordings

David T. Bundy, Erik Zellmer, Charles M. Gaona, Mohit Sharma, Nicholas Szrama, Carl Hacker, Zachary V. Freudenburg, Amy Daitch, Daniel W. Moran, Eric C. Leuthardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objective. Electrocorticography (ECoG) electrodes implanted on the surface of the brain have recently emerged as a potential signal platform for brain-computer interface (BCI) systems. While clinical ECoG electrodes are currently implanted beneath the dura, epidural electrodes could reduce the invasiveness and the potential impact of a surgical site infection. Subdural electrodes, on the other hand, while slightly more invasive, may have better signals for BCI application. Because of this balance between risk and benefit between the two electrode positions, the effect of the dura on signal quality must be determined in order to define the optimal implementation for an ECoG BCI system. Approach. This study utilized simultaneously acquired baseline recordings from epidural and subdural ECoG electrodes while patients rested. Both macro-scale (2 mm diameter electrodes with 1 cm inter-electrode distance, one patient) and micro-scale (75 m diameter electrodes with 1 mm inter-electrode distance, four patients) ECoG electrodes were tested. Signal characteristics were evaluated to determine differences in the spectral amplitude and noise floor. Furthermore, the experimental results were compared to theoretical effects produced by placing epidural and subdural ECoG contacts of different sizes within a finite element model. Main results. The analysis demonstrated that for micro-scale electrodes, subdural contacts have significantly higher spectral amplitudes and reach the noise floor at a higher frequency than epidural contacts. For macro-scale electrodes, while there are statistical differences, these differences are small in amplitude and likely do not represent differences relevant to the ability of the signals to be used in a BCI system. Conclusions. Our findings demonstrate an important trade-off that should be considered in developing a chronic BCI system. While implanting electrodes under the dura is more invasive, it is associated with increased signal quality when recording from micro-scale electrodes with very small sizes and spacing. If recording from larger electrodes, such as traditionally used clinically, the signal quality of epidural recordings is similar to that of subdural recordings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number016006
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


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