Opportunities and Challenges for Single-Unit Recordings from Enteric Neurons in Awake Animals.
Advanced electrode designs have made single-unit neural recordings commonplace in modern neuroscience research. However, single-unit resolution remains out of reach for the intrinsic neurons of the gastrointestinal system. Single-unit recordings of the enteric (gut) nervous system have been conducted in anesthetized animal models and excised tissue, but there is a large physiological gap between awake and anesthetized animals, particularly for the enteric nervous system. Here, we describe the opportunity for advancing enteric neuroscience offered by single-unit recording capabilities in awake animals. We highlight the primary challenges to microelectrodes in the gastrointestinal system including structural, physiological, and signal quality challenges, and we provide design criteria recommendations for enteric microelectrodes.