Exploring dynamical richness in engineered neuronal cultures: challenges and opportunities

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The brain is modular. Neuronal circuits are embedded in an environment that combines two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) organization, a complex structure that enhances the combination of localized and global activity, and that increases robustness and flexibility. To understand the principal actors that shape this dynamics, in our laboratory we develop tools to engineer neuronal circuits in vitro. Spontaneous activity is monitored through fluorescence calcium imaging to render the network collective activity patterns and its functional traits. The capacity of the network to exhibit a rich repertoire of activity patterns is described through the ‘dynamical richness’ Q. The higher Q, the higher the repertoire of activity. Networks whose neurons are locked in either random activity or full synchronization render Q=0; networks with a broad spectrum of coactivation patterns render Q=1. Given our potential to engineer neuronal cultures, and even to mimic them in silico, we can explore the connectivity blueprints that facilitate Q close to 1. Additionally, we can also investigate under which conditions a network can switch between Q=0 and Q=1 with just small perturbations, a prominent feature in neuronal circuits that frames the integration-segregation balance.



Contact details:

Ingo Fischer
971 25 98 78
ingo@ifisc.uib-csic.es

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