Neuronal devices
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The axon as a unique computational unit in neurons

The axon as a unique computational unit in neurons | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it

[Review] In the mammalian cortex, axons are highly ramified and link an enormous number of neurons over large distances. The conventional view assumes that action potentials (APs) are initiated at the axon initial segment in an all-or-none fashion and are then self-propagated orthodromically along axon collaterals without distortion of the AP waveform. By contrast, recent experimental results suggest that the axonal AP waveform can be modified depending on the activation states of the ion channels and receptors on axonal cell membranes. This AP modulation can regulate neurotransmission to postsynaptic neurons. In addition, the latest studies have provided evidence that cortical axons can integrate somatic burst firings and promote activity-dependent ectopic AP generation, which may underlie the oscillogenesis of fast rhythmic network activity. These seminal observations indicate that axons can perform diverse functional operations that extend beyond the prevailing model of axon physiology. (...) - by Sasaki T, Neuroscience Research, Volume 75, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 83–88


Via Julien Hering, PhD
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Dana Foundation Blog: Brains in Dishes

In the final panel of the INS annual meeting, scientists discussed the animal-machine models they’re using to further investigate motor function and learning.
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On architecture. Neuronal architecture

On architecture. Neuronal architecture | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it
The importance of Network Topology again... at [PLoS]. Abstract: [...] The performance of information processing systems, from artificial neural networks to natural neuronal ensembles, depends heav...

Via Beturbio
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Memory Implants - MIT Technology Review

Memory Implants - MIT Technology Review | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it
MIT Technology Review
Memory Implants
MIT Technology Review
In people whose brains have suffered damage from Alzheimer's, stroke, or injury, disrupted neuronal networks often prevent long-term memories from forming.

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Nanomagnetic remote control of animal behavior

Nanomagnetic remote control of animal behavior | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it

Magnetic nanoparticles targeted to nerve cell membranes can be used to remotely control cellular activity and even the simple reflex behaviors of C. elegans nematode worms, according to research by a team of biophysicists at the University of Buffalo. The new method could be very useful for investigating how cells interact in neuronal networks, and may eventually lead to new therapies for cancer and diabetes.

 

Heng Huang and her colleagues synthesized manganese-iron nanoparticles, each just 6 millionths of a millimeter in diameter, and coated with the bacterial protein straptavidin attached to a fluorescent molecule called DyLight549. Strepdavidin binds another molecule, much like a key fits into a lock, enabling specified cells to be targeted, while DyLight549 acts like a molecular thermometer, whose fluoresence intensity changes with temperature. The researchers first tested whether the nanoparticles could be used to activate specified cells maintained in culture dishes. They inserted the gene encoding TRPV1, one member of a family of temperature-sensitive membrane proteins, into human embryonic kidney cells and neurons isolated from the rat hippocampus. The cells were also made to express a genetically engineered membrane protein ‘marker’, consisting of cyan fluorescent protein and two peptides, one that anchors it to the membrane, and another that binds the streptavidin molecules coating the nanoparticles.

 

A solution of nanoparticles was added to the culture dishes, and the cells examined under the microscope. Cyan fluorescence was found to be localized exclusively to the membranes, showing that the nanoparticles had targeted only those cells expressing the marker protein. The researchers then applied a small magnetic field to the culture dishes, to heat the nanoparticles, and monitored the intensity of the fluorescence emitted by DyLight549. This revealed a highly localized increase in temperature: as soon as the magnetic field was applied, the fluorescence intensity in the immediate vicinity of the cell surface decreased, indicating a temperature increase of more than 15°C within 15 seconds. The heat generated by the nanoparticles was sufficient to trigger activation of the TRPV1 proteins expressed by the cultured cells. This was established using a genetically encoded calcium sensor, whose fluoresence signal changes in response to the tiny increases in calcium ion concentration that are characteristic of neuronal activity. The increases in calcium ion concentration were found to be due to influxes of calcium through the activated TRPV1 – they were observed in cells expressing both the membrane marker and TRPV1, but not in control cells expressing the membrane marker alone. Significantly, the calcium influxes were found to elicit nervous impulses in the TRPV1-expressing cells.

 

Huang and her colleagues then showed that this approach can be adapted to remotely control a simple behavioural response in the nematode worm Caenhorhabditis elegans. When this tiny organism encounters noxious heat, it acts reflexively by moving in the opposite direction, and this heat avoidance response is initiated by TRPV1. The sensory neurons expressing TRPV1 have not been identified, however, so the researchers could not target them directly. Instead, they used nanoparticles coated with polyethylene glycol, a fatty molecule that causes the particles to accumulate in the mucus layer near the mouth.

 

Although questions have been raised regarding the safety of using nanoparticles in humans, the method could eventually have various clinical applications, because, as this study demonstrates, it can heat cells without causing them any damage. One possible application is hyperthermic cancer therapy, in which heat is used to kill off rapidly dividing tumour cells. Another is to stimulate pancreatic cells to secrete insulin in diabetics. The first step towards developing any such an application will be to demonstrate that the method works effectively in the brains of rats or mice. In the immediate future though, studies will probably focus on targeting the nanoparticles to specified cells in the nematode worm.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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brain2grid

brain2grid | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it
EFRI:COPN is a joint project of Missouri S&T’s RTPIS lab and GeorgiaTech’s Neuroengineering lab to create learning algorithms of the brain and study Neural Networks on living brain cells and use them to optimize the electric power grid.
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Cultured neuronal network - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A cultured neuronal network is a cell culture of neurons that is used as a model to study the central nervous system, especially the brain. Often, cultured neuronal networks are connected to an input/output device such as a multi-electrode array (MEA), thus allowing two-way communication between the researcher and the network. This model has proved to be an invaluable tool to scientists studying the underlying principles behind neuronal learning, memory, plasticity, connectivity, and information processing.[1]

Cultured neurons are often connected via computer to a real or simulated robotic component, creating a hybrot or animat, respectively. Researchers can then thoroughly study learning and plasticity in a realistic context, where the neuronal networks are able to interact with their environment and receive at least some artificial sensory feedback. One example of this can be seen in the Multielectrode Array Art (MEART) system developed by the Potter Research Group at the Georgia Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Symbi-oticA Research Group at the University of Western Australia.[2] Another example can be seen in the neurally controlled animat.[3]

The use of cultured neuronal networks as a model for their in vivo counterparts has been an indispensable resource for decades.[4] It allows researchers to investigate neuronal activity in a much more controlled environment than would be possible in a live organism. Through this mechanism researchers have gleaned important information about the mechanisms behind learning and memory.

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Neuronal Innovation – the Next Big Thing After Open Innovation | Innovation Management

Neuronal Innovation – the Next Big Thing After Open Innovation | Innovation Management | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it
This article shows how biomimicry can be put to effective use in designing innovative networks. It builds from similarities between the brain connectome and innovation networks to lead to a novel concept in innovation - Neuronal Innovation.

Via Carlos Rodriguez-Gutierrez
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An optogenetic approach in epilepsy

An optogenetic approach in epilepsy | Neuronal devices | Scoop.it

[Review] Highlights:

Optogenetic tools allow selective activation/silencing of specific neuronal populations.Inhibitory opsins have been shown to efficiently reduce epileptiform activity in brain slices.New strategies for controlling seizures could be explored using optogenetics.Technically challenging optimisation of optogenetic approaches.Some uncertainty in predicting outcomes of optogenetic interventions on excitability of complex neuronal networks. (...) - by Kokaia M et al., Neuropharmacology, Volume 69, June 2013, Pages 89–95
Via Julien Hering, PhD
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