A device which records the brain activity of worms to help test the effects of drugs was developed by scientists from the University of Southampton.
NeuroChip is a microfluidic electrophysiological device, which can trap the microscopic worm Caenorhadbitis elegans and record the activity of discrete neural circuits in its 'brain' - a worm equivalent of the EEG.
C. elegans have been enormously important in providing insight into fundamental signalling processes in the nervous system and this device opens the way for a new analysis. Prior to this development, electrophysiological recordings that resolve the activity of excitatory and inhibitory nerve cells in the nervous system of the worm required a high level of technical expertise - single microscopic (1mm long) worms have to be trapped on the end of a glass tube, a microelectrode, in order to make the recording. The worms are very mobile as well as being small and this can be a challenging procedure.