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Haste and waste on neuronal pathways
Date:7/19/2013

oral characteristics of axonal conduction may form part of the overall information processing abilities of ensembles of neurons or contribute to how neurons adapt to new information. The research group plans on further investigating these effects in collaboration with researchers in other disciplines and research institutions that have complementary expertise and technologies.

The related research work is also facilitated through Hierlemann's 5-year ERC Advanced Grant and Bakkum's SNF Ambizione Grant awarded in 2010/2011. However, the researchers do not expect a fast elucidation of the axonal speed variations. Considering the small dimensions of axons, it will probably take years to collect conclusive evidence.

Up to now, a detailed and long-term investigation of signals of ensembles of neurons and their axons was hardly possible. The D-BSSE research group, during the last 10 years, devoted a lot of time and efforts to develop the high-resolution microelectronic chips, hosting thousands of microelectrodes. The now published, detailed and precise axonal propagation speed measurements reward the scientists for their investment and validate the approach. "We hope to acquire important new evidence with our technology," they state. Other technologies have not yet provided a high enough spatio-temporal resolution to characterize details of axonal signal conduction.

High-resolution chip developed

The microelectrode array chip of the BSSE research group has 11'000 electrodes within a very small area (3150 electrodes per square millimeter) that record from or stimulate neuronal cells or ensembles. Data from 126 arbitrarily selectable electrodes can be simultaneously recorded by means of custom-developed on-chip microelectronic circuits. The neuronal cells grow directly atop the circuitry units on the microelectronic chip, which is fabricated in industrial complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Signals traveling
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Contact: Andreas Hierlemann
andreas.hierlemann@bsse.ethz.ch
41-613-873-150
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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