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Feed-Forward Propagation of Temporal and Rate Information Between Cortical Populations During Coherent Activation in Engineered In Vitro Networks

By Thomas Bryan DeMarse, Thomas Bryan DeMarse, Liangbin ePan, Sankaraleengam eAlagapan, Gregory J Brewer and Bruce C Wheeler and Bruce C Wheeler

Abstract

Transient propagation of information across neuronal assembles is thought to underlie many cognitive processes. However, the nature of the neural code that is embedded within these transmissions remains uncertain. Much of our understanding of how information is transmitted among these assemblies has been derived from computational models. While these models have been instrumental in understanding these processes they often make simplifying assumptions about the biophysical properties of neurons that may influence the nature and properties expressed. To address this issue we created an in vitro analogue of a feed-forward network composed of two small populations (also referred to as assemblies or layers) of living dissociated rat cortical neurons. The populations were separated by, and communicated through, a MEMS device containing a strip of microscale tunnels. Delayed culturing of one population in the first layer followed by the second a few days later induced the unidirectional growth of axons through the microtunnels resulting in a primarily feed-forward communication between these two small neural populations. In this study we systematically manipulated the number of tunnels that connected each layer and hence, the number of axons providing communication between those populations. We then assess the effect of reducing the number of tunnels has upon the properties of between-layer communication capacity and fidelity of neural transmission among spike trains transmitted across and within layers. We show evidence based on Victor-Purpura’s and van Rossum’s spike train similarity metrics supporting the presence of both rate and temporal information embedded within these transmissions whose fidelity increased during communication both between and within layers when the number of tunnels are increased. We also provide evidence reinforcing the role of synchronized activity upon transmission fidelity during the spontaneous synchronized network burst events that propagated between layers and highlight the potential applications of these MEMs devices as a tool for further investigation of structure and functional dynamics among neural populations

Topics: synchrony, in vitro, bursting, cortical networks, feed-forward networks, Communication through coherence, Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry, RC321-571
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fncir.2016.00032
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:ec61b6680a06412b9cc62b1662beb812
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