To understand how the brain operates, we must measure the joint activity of a myriad individual neurons distributed across brain regions. Until recently, this has been impossible: recording methods could either resolve the activity of individual neurons or monitor multiple brain regions. In 2017, Neuropixels probes overcame this difficulty by distributing close to 1,000 sites over a narrow, one-centimeter shank. In the rodent brain, these sites record from hundreds of neurons distributed across brain regions.
The engineering behind Neuropixels is led by Tim Harris at Janelia Research Campus and is delivered by the engineers at IMEC, the nanoelectronics research center. Testing and applications of the probes are performed at University College London and other institutions around the world. The probes were funded by a consortium comprising Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Allen Institute for Brain Science, and Gatsby Foundation. They are available at cost price from neuropixels.org.
The next generation of probes, Neuropixels 2.0, add extended capabilities to record from larger neuronal populations in small brains during free movement, while allowing experimenters to record from the same neurons for weeks or even months. These probes were funded by a consortium comprising Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, NTNU, NERF, and Champalimaud Centre. Commercialization is expected in late 2022.