An accurate and portable eye movement detector for studying sleep in small animals

Sánchez-López Á, Escudero M. J Sleep Res. 2015 Aug;24(4):466-73. Epub 2015 Jan 15.

Although eye movements are a highly valuable variable in attempts to precisely identify different periods of the sleep-wake cycle, their indirect measurement by electrooculography is not good enough. The present article describes an accurate and portable scleral search coil that allows the detection of tonic and phasic characteristics of eye movements in free-moving animals. Six adult Wistar rats were prepared for chronic recording of electroencephalography, electromyography and eye movements using the scleral search coil technique. We developed a miniature magnetic field generator made with two coils, consisting of 35 turns and 15 mm diameter of insulated 0.2 mm cooper wire, mounted in a frame of carbon fibre. This portable scleral search coil was fixed on the head of the animal, with each magnetic coil parallel to the eye coil and at 5 mm from each eye. Eye movements detected by the portable scleral search coil were compared with those measured by a commercial scleral search coil requiring immobilizing the head of the animal. No qualitative differences were found between the two scleral search coil systems in their capabilities to detect eye movements. This innovative portable scleral search coil system is an essential tool to detect slow changes in eye position and miniature rapid eye movements during sleep. The portable scleral search coil is much more suitable for detecting eye movements than any previously available system because of its precision and simplicity, and because it does not require immobilization of the animal’s head.

Ventana Científica. Diciembre 2015. Artículo 40
An accurate and portable eye movement detector for studying sleep in small animals 


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