Microneurography: Recordings from single neurons in human peripheral nerves


  • Ackerley Rochelle
  • Watkins Roger


  • Microneurography
  • Single unit
  • Mechanoreceptor
  • Mechanoreceptive afferent
  • Tactile
  • Touch
  • Human
  • Peripheral nerve

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Over the last 50 years, the technique of microneurography has provided us with valuable insights into activity in human nerves. Microneurography allows us to record from the axons of single neurons in various peripheral nerves across the body. This approach has provided a wealth of information on peripheral nerve signals, especially the encoding of touch in mechanoreceptive afferents in humans. As these single neuron recordings are performed in conscious, healthy human participants, their activity can be directly linked with the resultant perceptual processes. This chapter will focus on how to setup, use, and apply microneurography, to make single unit recordings from mechanoreceptive afferents to study the sense of touch. Only a handful of laboratories in the world carry out single unit microneurography, due to the many challenges faced when recording from human nerves (e.g., ethical, practical, mental), and it takes extensive training to become competent in the technique. The co-founder of the technique (Åke Vallbo) rightly states that the method is safe, as long as the experiments are performed with care and consideration, and he emphasizes that a highly considerate attitude is required during microneurography [1]. Overall, we will explore how microneurography developed to the practice it is today, how to use it safely and effectively, and provide avenues for future development and investigations with the technique.

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