The interplay between anatomical connectivity and dynamics in neural networks plays a key role in the functional properties of the brain and in the associated connectivity changes induced by neural diseases. However, a detailed experimental investigation of this interplay at both cellular and population scales in the living brain is limited by accessibility. Alternatively, to investigate the basic operational principles with morphological, electrophysiological and computational methods, the activity emerging from large in vitro networks of primary neurons organized with imposed topologies can be studied. Here, we validated the use of a new bio-printing approach, which effectively maintains the topology of hippocampal cultures in vitro and investigated, by patch-clamp and MEA electrophysiology, the emerging functional properties of these grid-confined networks. In spite of differences in the organization of physical connectivity, our bio-patterned grid networks retained the key properties of synaptic transmission, short-term plasticity and overall network activity with respect to random networks. Interestingly, the imposed grid topology resulted in a reinforcement of functional connections along orthogonal directions, shorter connectivity links and a greatly increased spiking probability in response to focal stimulation. These results clearly demonstrate that reliable functional studies can nowadays be performed on large neuronal networks in the presence of sustained changes in the physical network connectivity.

Emergent functional properties of neuronal networks with controlled topology.

VALENTE, PIERLUIGI;BALDELLI, PIETRO;BENFENATI, FABIO
2012

Abstract

The interplay between anatomical connectivity and dynamics in neural networks plays a key role in the functional properties of the brain and in the associated connectivity changes induced by neural diseases. However, a detailed experimental investigation of this interplay at both cellular and population scales in the living brain is limited by accessibility. Alternatively, to investigate the basic operational principles with morphological, electrophysiological and computational methods, the activity emerging from large in vitro networks of primary neurons organized with imposed topologies can be studied. Here, we validated the use of a new bio-printing approach, which effectively maintains the topology of hippocampal cultures in vitro and investigated, by patch-clamp and MEA electrophysiology, the emerging functional properties of these grid-confined networks. In spite of differences in the organization of physical connectivity, our bio-patterned grid networks retained the key properties of synaptic transmission, short-term plasticity and overall network activity with respect to random networks. Interestingly, the imposed grid topology resulted in a reinforcement of functional connections along orthogonal directions, shorter connectivity links and a greatly increased spiking probability in response to focal stimulation. These results clearly demonstrate that reliable functional studies can nowadays be performed on large neuronal networks in the presence of sustained changes in the physical network connectivity.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/376996
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