Modeling extracellular electrical neural stimulation: from basic understanding to MEA-based applications.
Electrical stimulation of peripheral nerve activates large-diameter fibers before small ones. A physiological recruitment order, from small to large-diameter axons, is desirable in many applications. Previous studies using computer simulations showed that selective activation of small fibers could be achieved by reshaping the extracellular voltage profile along the nerve using an array of nine electrodes. In this study, several electrode-array configurations were tested in order to minimize the number of contacts. Electrode arrays of 5, 7, 9, and 11 contacts with 0.75 mm contact separation were performed in computer simulations of dog sacral root (S2). Electrode arrays of 5 and 7 contacts recruited 40% of small axons (<10 microm) when recruiting only 10% of larger axons. Effectiveness of 9- and 11-contact arrays decreased with the presence of epineurium and perineurium. The effectiveness of electrode arrays was independent of stimulation pulsewidth. The biphasic-pulse stimulation with the amplitude of the second phase set as low as possible should be used to prevent the excitation of large axons during the second phase and to minimize the electrode corrosion. Arrays of 5 and 7 contacts also decreased the recruitment curve slope to 26% and 51% of the tripolar electrode, respectively. This modeling study predicts that reversing the recruitment order of peripheral nerve stimulation could be achieved by reshaping the extracellular voltage using electrode arrays of 5 or 7 contacts.