Friday, August 19, 2011

Multi-Electrode Arrays

This summer we've embarked on a new project. Based on some conversations that arose during my Neural Engineering graduate course, we've decided to try growing neurons in multi-electrode array (MEA) dishes to record from them. The dish where we grow the neurons is set up with a series of electrodes built right into the dish. We are growing rat neurons in the dish and they are doing quite well - they have spontaneously started growing axons to interact with each other and we expect they will be sufficiently  mature to record from within ten days.

The picture at right shows our neurons under the microscope in the MEA dish. The black traces are the wires and electrodes of the dish. The neurons are the dark spots and the little dark lines between neurons are the axons. This picture was taken on August 19, 2011.

Once we have this procedure established, we plan to explore whether these arrays of neurons can be 'trained' via stimulus protocols. In theory, repeated electrical stimuli can force the neurons to rearrange their connectivity in predictable patterns. In that sense the network can be said to "learn" the stimuli. This is effectively similar to creating a biological neural network.

In order to save money, we are developing our own in-house circuit for amplifying and digitizing the neural signals (as opposed to buying an off-the-shelf rig). The circuit is based off the amplifier I published in my dissertation (in 2004). We have designed a 10-channel PCB which we hope to send today to the fabrication facility.

More details to come as they emerge!


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  2. COOL!! This is like some mad scientist stuff haha!