An introduction to neuroscientific methods: Single-cell recordings

Veit Stuphorn, Xiaomo Chen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter describes the role of single-cell recordings in understanding the mechanisms underlying human cognition. Cognition is a function of the brain, a complex computational network, whose most elementary nodes are made up out of individual neurons. These neurons encode information and influence each other through a dynamically changing pattern of action potentials. For this reason, the activity of neurons in the awake, behaving brain constitutes the most fundamental form of neural data for cognitive neuroscience. This chapter discusses a number of technical issues and challenges of single-cell neurophysiology using a recent project of the authors as an example. We discuss issues such as the choice of an appropriate animal model, the role of psychophysics, technical challenges surrounding the simultaneous recording of multiple neurons, and various methods for perturbation experiments. The chapter closes with a consideration of the challenge that the brain’s complexity poses for fully understanding any realistic nervous circuit, and of the importance of conceptual insights and mathematical models in the interpretation of single-cell recordings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAn Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781493922369
ISBN (Print)9781493922352
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Action potentials
  • Animal models
  • Behavior
  • Decision making
  • Electrophysiological recording
  • Frontal cortex
  • Nervous circuit
  • Perturbation experiment
  • Primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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