New Scale Technologies’ Virtual Coordinate System (VCS) Software for the Multi-Probe Micromanipulator (MPM) – calibrating a nerual probe to physical lambda and bregma. (Image courtesy Rumbaugh Lab – Scripps Research)

New software for the Multi-Probe Micromanipulator (MPM) System speeds planning, simulation and execution of acute in-vivo neural recording experiments

Fast, accurate and reliable probe positioning improves productivity and data quality

With the latest software release for its Multi-Probe Micromanipulator (MPM) System, New Scale Technologies has made it even easier for neuroscience researchers to quickly and accurately position multiple silicon probes for acute in-vivo neural recording. The new Virtual Coordinate System (VCS) in the MPM System software dramatically simplifies planning, simulation and execution of neural recording experiments.

The software allows control of multiple probes within a common stereotactic coordinate space. It ensures that all probes follow the desired approach angles and insertion trajectories to reach target points in the brain atlas. The result is highly accurate positioning with less time spent on geometry calculations and set-up, and more time on actual experiments. It is compatible with probes from imec (Neuropixels), NeuroNexus, Cambridge Neurotech and more.

“The Virtual Coordinate System takes the hassle out of multi-probe alignment by allowing each probe to be automatically registered to a 2D image or a 3D reference space,” said Josh Siegle of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. “Through a simple calibration procedure, the software learns the relative offset and orientation of each probe to the virtual coordinate space. Afterwards, the position of each probe is displayed within the new coordinate system. Furthermore, each probe moves within this global space, rather than along its local axes. This makes it much easier to keep track of probe locations when many are in use simultaneously.”

The Multi-Probe Micromanipulator (MPM) provides precision motion of multiple high-density silicon neural probes in a compact space. The VCS Software simplifies planning, simulation and execution of experiments. Image shows steel reference probes in a three-probe inverted MPM System.

Home calibration before each experiment compensates for any misalignment that may have occurred during stereotactic surgery. Prior to the experiment, all probes are calibrated to the VCS reference space. A single measurement, typically the XYZ offset of a skull landmark such as bregma or lambda, is required for the final alignment.

“Using the VCS system to align the probes and calculate entry points was super useful, and setting the manipulators to the desired starting position the night prior saved a lot of time during actual experiments,” said Tobi Leva of The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association in Berlin. “With the ability to calibrate the probes to lambda and bregma for each experiment, I could reconstruct the insertion path from previous recordings. I was really happy with the accuracy and reproducibility.”

The VCS Software also dramatically reduces setup time for neural recording experiments. Researchers simply enter the desired start and end points for each probe, and the VCS software automatically calculates the polar angle, pitch angle and manipulator arm positions to achieve the desired insertion trajectories.

Enter the desired start and end points for each probe, and the new VCS Software automatically calculates the probe arm positions needed to achieve the desired insertion trajectories.

Users can simulate the motorized motion of all probes using a 3D visualization in the software. They can check for potential interference, make any adjustments, and re-simulate.

Once satisfied, they can manually adjust the physical manipulators to these calculated positions and use the MPM software interface to move the physical probes to the insertion location in stereotaxic coordinate space, and run the experiment with all probes moving in that stereotaxic coordinate system.

The Multi-Probe Micromanipulator (MPM) supports probes from imec (Neuropixels), NueroNexus, Cambridge Neurotech and more. Image shows steel reference probes used to avoid probe damage during setup.

The VCS Software was developed by motion control experts New Scale Technologies and extensively tested at leading neuroscience research labs. This release of the VCS software is supported on both inverted and upright MPM System configurations.


Learn more

Visit the Multi-Probe Manipulator System page for more information including an overview video of the Virtual Coordinate System.

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