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Blackrock Microsystems rodent neuroscience research capabilities

Blackrock has been an innovator in rodent research for many years, so much so that nearly half of our new customers are rodent researchers. This focus has given rise to a number of new technologies and devices designed exclusively for rodent use.

These products are lightweight and maneuverable, essential for rodent research. Our CerePlex™ M and CerePlex™ µ digital headstages and Blackrock commutators facilitate freely moving rodent research.

Many members of our customer support and engineering teams have years of experience in rodent electrophysiology, which has yielded novel product designs that meet the unique needs of rodent researchers.


Freely moving opto/electric setup

  1. Electrode Array

  2. Stimulation Y-Adapter

  3. CerePlex™ µ (32-channel)—a miniature headstage and stimulation controller designed especially for use in mice.

  4. Doric Lenses Commutator—prevents twisting of headstage cable and fiberoptic for freely moving animals.

  5. Digital Hub—accepts inputs from up to four CerePlex headstages (up to 128 channels. Optical transmission to the NSP facilitates isolation and long-distance transmission.

  6. Cerebus™ System (32-channel)—for data acquisition.

  7. Optogenetics Stimulation System—integrated optical and genetic stimulation and recording kit for controlling specific events in targeted cells.

  8. Optogenetics LED Source

  9. CereStim™ 96—high-channel-count, programmable electric stimulator.

Setup overview

This setup facilitates the study of neural activities and behavior changes while delivering electric and optogenetics stimulation using the CerePlex™ µ system. The CerePlex µ powers this stimulation and recording setup by providing easy control of stimulation delivery to any given channel through a fiberoptic commutator. The neural signal processor provides real time control for closed loop feedback with every accessory device in this setup.

Major system benefits

This setup provides simultaneous electric stimulation and recording in combination with optogenetics stimulation on a freely behaving rodent. It uses the CerePlex µ system, which is unique in its ability to facilitate all these capabilities at once such that researchers can study how stimulation impacts neural activities affecting behavior.

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Virtual Reality setup

  1. Electrode Array

  2. CerePlex M (32 channels each)—These four digital headstages enable recording from multiple brain areas and or from multiple animals with different implant locations.

  3. Digital Hub—accepts inputs from up to four CerePlex headstages (up to 128 channels. Optical transmission to the NSP facilitates isolation and long-distance transmission.

  4. Cerebus System (128 channel)—neural signal processor and data acquisition device permits high-channel-count recording and synchronization.

  5. Virtual Reality JetBall—provides a unique VR environment including whisker stimulation and reward delivery. Maze position is synchronized with the Cerebus System for closed-loop manipulation of experimental conditions.

Setup overview

This setup provides a controlled virtual-reality environment synchronized with Blackrock-Recorded neural data. It enables control of maze conditions, rewards and stimulation such that complex experiments can be designed. Being able to synchronize data from the virtual-reality maze with recorded neural data addresses a number of complex questions that would be difficult to answer with freely moving animals.

Major system benefits

The control of maze conditions and rewards available during maze exploration is a powerful tool. Coupled with synchronization of data from the maze, the Cerebus System provides a powerful experimental platform. Its various input types permit synchronization of data from a number of different devices. Given the many degrees of control available through use of multiple headstages, more complex questions can be asked involving more brain regions.

Customer example

Dr. Hajime Takano uses a state-of-the-art imaging set-up from Thorlabs in combination with a multi-sensory virtual reality system from PhenoSys to study place cells.

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Plug-and-play setup

  1. Electrode Array

  2. CerePlex M (32 channel)—small digital headstage with a single-cable connector for setup ease.

  3. CerePlex Direct—simple, cost-effective DAQ system for precise neural signal recording.

Setup overview

This plug-and-play data acquisition system provides users with full capability to perform ephys recording on head-fixed or freely moving animals. CerePlex Direct has very simple interface with the digital headstage and host PC. It also has analog and digital inputs for communicating with third party devices. When combined with CerePlex Direct, Blackrock digital headstages empower many different kinds of applications.

Major system benefits

This setup has minimal components, is highly cost-effective and provides fully capable ephys recording with true plug-and-play operation. In these respects, it is ideal for researchers with limited budgets or those who do not want a complicated setup. The CerePlex Direct system is easy to set up and configure with user-friendly software. It is compatible with all Blackrock digital headstages, providing wide-ranging ephys recording capability.

Customer example

Dr. Ryan McLaughlin was a new entrant to ephys starting his first lab. The CerePlex Direct proved an ideal way for him to get up and running quickly. The setup is simple, the software intuitive and the digital headstages alleviate complexities of traditional analog recording systems. He has all the power of a full recording system with a much simpler setup. The setup will also enable him to transition to more complex setups over time by adding electrical and optical stimulation along with additional behavioral control systems.

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