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Journal of Integrative Neuroscience  2019, Vol. 18 Issue (1): 23-32    DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2019.01.14
Original Research Previous articles | Next articles
Intracortical microstimulation parameters modulate flight behavior in pigeon
Kun Zhao1, 2, Hong Wan1, 2, *(), Zhigang Shang1, 2, Xinyu Liu1, 2, 3, Lu Liu1, 2
1 School of Electrical Engineering, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, 450000, China
2 Henan Key Laboratory of Brain Science and Brain-Computer Interface Technology, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, 450000, China
3 School of Information Engineering, Huanghuai University, Zhumadian, 463000, China
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Pigeons have a natural affinity for travel by flight. Researchers have recently achieved modulation of pigeon locomotor behaviour by intracortical microstimulation. However, there is a lack of research focused on the analysis of microstimulations parameters in the control of pigeon flight. Here, chronic microelectrode implantation technology is employed to establish a model for evaluation of the effects of pigeon flight modulation. Furthermore, three stimulation parameters are compared (amplitude, frequency, and duty ratio) and analyzed as to how they and their interactions affect the flight of pigeons. Results show that microstimulation of the pigeon formation reticularis medialis mesencephali area has significant effects on modulation of pigeon flight and there is a significant non-linear correlation between the stimulation parameters employed and modulation of the flight trajectory. Additionally, we found that the amplitude interacts with both frequency and duty ratio. These results indicate that the flight trajectory of a pigeon can be modulated by alterations made to microstimulation parameters.

Key words:  Intracortical microstimulation      flight      stimulation parameters      pigeon     
Submitted:  27 January 2019      Accepted:  26 March 2019      Published:  30 March 2019     
  • 61673353/National Natural Science Foundation of China
  • HNBBL17005/Open Foundation of Henan Key Laboratory of Brain Science
*Corresponding Author(s):  Hong Wan     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Kun Zhao, Hong Wan, Zhigang Shang, Xinyu Liu, Lu Liu. Intracortical microstimulation parameters modulate flight behavior in pigeon. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience, 2019, 18(1): 23-32.

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Figure 1.  Behavioural task and experiment procedures. (a) Experimental site. Two 1.2 meter high platforms separated by 15 meters were located at either end of the experimental area. Cameras were placed on the ceiling to collect video of pigeon flight. (b) Schematic of automatic feeding platform. The automatic feeding equipment was installed on the platform to induce pigeon flight. It removed human involvement from the experiment. (c) Diagram showing flight task. Pigeons were trained to reach a platform (A) and get food from a food container. After food was consumed, pigeons flew to the other platform (B) and obtained food again. During the pigeon flight period, stimulation was applied to the FRM area.

Figure 2.  Location of FRM and its organizational structure. (a) Schematic of electrode implantation location in FRM area of a pigeon brain. The location of the FRM area is AP: 3.00 mm, ML: 3.00 mm, DP: 7.5-8.5 mm. (b) Stimulating electrodes, constructed from two twisted-pair electrodes. The electrodes are diameter 100 mm Ni-chrome stainless steel wire, Teflon insulation. The electrodes were implanted in left and right FRM areas simultaneously. (c) Slice schematic of electrode implantation. Left: Dorsal view of the pigeon’s brain. The horizontal dashed line indicates section level AP 3.0. The vertical dashed line indicates section level ML 3.0. Middle: Vertical section of the electrode implantation location. Right: Transverse section of the electrode implantation location.

Figure 3.  Wireless current stimulator and stimulation signal output waveform. (a) Pigeon with the wireless stimulator. The size of the stimulator is 3.3×2.4 cm, and weight 8.5g. (b) Control module and constant-current source stimulation module, next to a ruler as a size reference. The stimulator comprised a wireless communication module, control module, constant-current source stimulation module. (c) Parameters of the constant current biphasic stimulation waveform. "$T$" denoted period and "$t$" denotes the pulse duration as employed here.

Table 1  Parameter test values
Parameter Unit Range Test levels
Amplitude $\mu$A 60-450 T, + 100, + 200
Frequency Hz 100-300 100, 200, 300
Duty Ratio % 20-40 20, 30, 40
Figure 4.  Video signal processing flow chart and effects schematic. Videos recorded flight during the experiment and the transmitted information of the video signals was stored in an Audio Video Interleaved (AVI) format (resolution 1280×720 px). Each image frame was then binarized and the background removed with an inter-frame difference method. The pigeon outline in each frame image was integrated and the graphic centre of gravity of the pigeon was obtained.

Figure 5.  Reaction to electrical stimulation of pigeons either on the ground or in the air. (a) Schematic for pigeon movement on the ground with current stimulation. (b) Movement of pigeon in absence of current stimulation. (c) Movement of pigeon induced by current stimulation. (d) Schematic for pigeon flight trajectories with/without current stimulation. (e) Flight trajectories of pigeon without/with current stimulation in left side FRM. (f) Flight trajectories of pigeon without/with current stimulation in right side FRM.

Figure 6.  Results for pigeons without/with stimulation during flight. (a) Flight trajectories for pigeon No. P080 (left: without stimulation, right: with stimulation). (b) Statistical summary of results for all six pigeons' $d_{\max}$ (mean $\pm$ standard error-SE).

Figure 7.  Regulating pigeon's flight with different stimulation parameters. (a) Flight trajectories of pigeon No. P075 with the same set of parameters applied three times. (b) Statistical summary of six pigeons (mean $d_{\max}$ $\pm$ standard error, SE) with different parameters.

Figure 8.  The effect on $d_{\max}$ (mean $\pm$ SE) of changing a single stimulation parameter. Left: Amplitude. Frequency was set to 100 Hz and the duty ratio set to 20% when the effect of stimulus amplitude was analysed. The amplitude was gradually increased by a step size of 100 microamp. Middle: Frequency. To determine the effect of frequency, amplitude and the duty ratio were held constant at T + 200 microamp and 20%, respectively. The frequency was gradually increased by a step size of 100 Hz. Right: Duty ratio. When the duty ratio was analyzed, amplitude and frequency were held constant at T + 200 microamp and 300 Hz, respectively. The duty ratio was gradually increased by a step size of 10%.

Figure 9.  Effect on $d_{\max}$ (mean $\pm$ SE) of changed stimulation pair parameters. The dmax values of pigeon No. 075. Left: Amplitude-frequency. When interactive effects between an amplitude parameter and a frequency parameter was analysed, the duty ratio was set to 20%. Middle: Amplitude-duty ratio. The frequency is set to 100 Hz when the effect of the amplitude-duty ratio pair was examined. Right: Frequency-duty ratio. The amplitude was set to T + 200 microamp when the effect of the frequency-duty ratio pair was examined.

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