Sensory Percepts Elicited by Chronic Macro-Sieve Electrode Stimulation of the Rat Sciatic Nerve

Nikhil S. Chandra, Weston M. McCarron, Ying Yan, Luis C. Ruiz, Eric G. Sallinger, Nathan K. Birenbaum, Harold Burton, Leonard Green, Daniel W. Moran, Wilson Z. Ray, Matthew R. MacEwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Intuitive control of conventional prostheses is hampered by their inability to provide the real-time tactile and proprioceptive feedback of natural sensory pathways. The macro-sieve electrode (MSE) is a candidate interface to amputees’ truncated peripheral nerves for introducing sensory feedback from external sensors to facilitate prosthetic control. Its unique geometry enables selective control of the complete nerve cross-section by current steering. Unlike previously studied interfaces that target intact nerve, the MSE’s implantation requires transection and subsequent regeneration of the target nerve. Therefore, a key determinant of the MSE’s suitability for this task is whether it can elicit sensory percepts at low current levels in the face of altered morphology and caliber distribution inherent to axon regeneration. The present in vivo study describes a combined rat sciatic nerve and behavioral model developed to answer this question. Approach: Rats learned a go/no-go detection task using auditory stimuli and then underwent surgery to implant the MSE in the sciatic nerve. After healing, they were trained with monopolar electrical stimuli with one multi-channel and eight single-channel stimulus configurations. Psychometric curves derived by the method of constant stimuli (MCS) were used to calculate 50% detection thresholds and associated psychometric slopes. Thresholds and slopes were calculated at two time points 3 weeks apart. Main Results: For the multi-channel stimulus configuration, the average current required for stimulus detection was 19.37 μA (3.87 nC) per channel. Single-channel thresholds for leads located near the nerve’s center were, on average, half those of leads located near the periphery (54.92 μA vs. 110.71 μA, or 10.98 nC vs. 22.14 nC). Longitudinally, 3 of 5 leads’ thresholds decreased or remained stable over the 3-week span. The remaining two leads’ thresholds increased by 70–74%, possibly due to scarring or device failure. Significance: This work represents an important first step in establishing the MSE’s viability as a sensory feedback interface. It further lays the groundwork for future experiments that will extend this model to the study of other devices, stimulus parameters, and task paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number758427
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Oct 7 2021


  • macro-sieve electrode
  • nerve regeneration
  • peripheral nerve stimulation
  • rat behavior
  • regenerative electrode
  • sciatic nerve
  • sensorimotor restoration
  • sensory feedback


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