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Multielectrode arrays used to detect cellular activation have become so dense (electrodes per square millimeter) as to jeopardize the basic assumptions of activation mapping; namely, that electrodes are points adequately separated as to not interfere with the tissue or each other. This paper directly tests these assumptions for high-density electrode arrays. Using a finite element model with modified Fitzhugh-Nagumo kinetics, the authors represent electrodes as isopotential surfaces of varying widths and spacing ratio (SR) (center-to-center spacing divided by electrode width). They examine the signal strength and ability of a single electrode to detect activation due to a passing wavefront. They find that high-density arrays do not cause significant wavefront curvature or alter activation timing in the underlying tissue. Relationships between signal strength, cross talk, and array design are explained by the interaction of the propagating wavefront and induced sources on the isopotential electrodes. Sensitivity analysis shows that these results may be generalized to a wide range of physiologically relevant designs and applications. It is concluded that electrode array designs in which electrode spacing greatly exceeds electrode diameter are overly conservative and that arrays with a SR of less than 2.0 may perform successfully in electrophysiological studies.
Date of Publication: July 2000