Modeling and experiments of small neuronal networks coupled to micro-electrode arrays
© Massobrio and Martinoia; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007
Published: 6 July 2007
The use of neuronal cultures coupled to Micro-Electrode Array (MEA) is becoming a widely used and recognized experimental model for studying basic properties of information processing in neuronal systems. On the other hand few models of interconnected neurons are used in conjunction with such devices .
In this work, we present a simplified neuronal network made of 60 neurons randomly and synaptically connected. Each neuron is coupled to a microelectrode position, and the network is mapped to reflect the number of recording sites in a MEA. Indeed, the actual number of neurons and connections forming the biological network is much more than those constituting the simplified modeled network. Nevertheless, the simulated architecture is able to account for the neuronal dynamics measured by means of the 60 recording channels. Comparing the model with experimental results, it turned out that the overall dynamics of such large networks can be captured by a reduced (small) neuronal network with proper connectivity. In fact, in actual measurements, we are sampling from a small fraction of the neurons constituting the network and it seems that the behavior of such networks can be replicated by few representatives of them. Additionally, our approach can be also conveniently utilized when dealing with low-density patterned networks or interconnected sub-populations .
Materials and methods
All the simulations were carried out by using the software NEURON and the results were compared to the experimental data obtained in our laboratories. Cultured cortical neurons from rat embryos (E18) were plated over MEAs (from Multi Channel Systems, Reutlingen, Germany). The post-processing analysis both for the simulated and experimental data was performed by custom developed software .
A simple model of a small-scale network coupled to MEAs is presented. Interestingly enough, network bursting behavior using a biophysical neuron model and proper geometry and connectivity is obtained by using spiking neurons. The model is able to capture the overall dynamic of the network with a reduced number of neurons demonstrating uniform spatial behavior and redundancy in such in vitro randomly cultured neuronal systems.
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