Navigation Links
Pitt team recreates brain cell networks with new view of activity behind memory formation
Date:5/25/2011

PITTSBURGHUniversity of Pittsburgh researchers have reproduced the brain's complex electrical impulses onto models made of living brain cells that provide an unprecedented view of the neuron activity behind memory formation.

The team fashioned ring-shaped networks of brain cells that were not only capable of transmitting an electrical impulse, but also remained in a state of persistent activity associated with memory formation, said lead researcher Henry Zeringue [zuh-rang], a bioengineering professor in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering. Magnetic resonance images have suggested that working memories are formed when the cortex, or outer layer of the brain, launches into extended electrical activity after the initial stimulus, Zeringue explained. But the brain's complex structure and the diminutive scale of neural networks mean that observing this activity in real time can be nearly impossible, he added.

The Pitt team, however, was able to generate and prolong this excited state in groups of 40 to 60 brain cells harvested from the hippocampus of ratsthe part of the brain associated with memory formation. In addition, the researchers produced the networks on glass slides that allowed them to observe the cells' interplay. The work was conducted in Zeringue's lab by Pitt bioengineering doctoral student Ashwin Vishwanathan, who most recently reported the work in the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) journal, Lab on a Chip. Vishwanathan coauthored the paper with Zeringue and Guo-Qiang Bi, a neurobiology professor in Pitt's School of Medicine. The work was conducted through the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, which is jointly operated by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University.

To produce the models, the Pitt team stamped adhesive proteins onto silicon discs. Once the proteins were cultured and dried, cultured hippocampus cells from embryonic rats were fused to the proteins and then given time to grow and connect to form a natural network. The researchers disabled the cells' inhibitory response and then excited the neurons with an electrical pulse.

Zeringue and his colleagues were able to sustain the resulting burst of network activity for up to what in neuronal time is 12 long seconds. Compared to the natural duration of .25 seconds at most, the model's 12 seconds permitted an extensive observation of how the neurons transmitted and held the electrical charge, Zeringue said.

Unraveling the mechanics of this network communication is key to understanding the cellular and molecular basis of memory creation, Zeringue said. The format developed at Pitt makes neural networks more accessible for experimentation. For instance, the team found that when activity in one neuron is suppressed, the others respond with greater excitement.

"We can look at neurons as individuals, but that doesn't reveal a lot," Zeringue said. "Neurons are more connected and interdependent than any other cell in the body. Just because we know how one neuron reacts to something, a whole network can react not only differently, but sometimes in the complete opposite manner predicted."

Zeringue will next work to understand the underlying factors that govern network communication and stimulation, such as the various electrical pathways between cells and the genetic makeup of individual cells.


'/>"/>

Contact: Morgan Kelly
mekelly@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. CCNY-led interdisciplinary team recreates colonial hydrology
2. Penn biophysicists create new model for protein-cholesterol interactions in brain and muscle tissue
3. During exercise, the human brain shifts into high gear on alternative energy
4. Millisecond brain signals predict response to fast-acting antidepressant
5. Food for thought -- regulating energy supply to the brain during fasting
6. Risk and reward compete in brain
7. Brainy genes, not brawn, key to success on mussel beach
8. Brain-nourishing molecule may predict schizophrenia relapse
9. Brain structure provides key to unraveling function of bizarre dinosaur crests
10. MU brain imaging center provides research for autism, schizophrenia and Parkinsons disease
11. Key to function of dinosaur crests found in brain structure
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Pitt team recreates brain cell networks with new view of activity behind memory formation
(Date:11/29/2016)... -- BioDirection, a privately held medical device company developing ... of concussion and other traumatic brain injury (TBI), announced ... with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ... the meeting company representatives reviewed plans for clinical development ... of a planned pilot trial. "We ...
(Date:11/24/2016)... Cercacor today introduced Ember TM Sport ... non-invasively measure hemoglobin, Oxygen Content, Oxygen Saturation, Perfusion ... in approximately 30 seconds. Smaller than a smartphone, using ... to key data about their bodies to help monitor ... Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles. When hemoglobin ...
(Date:11/19/2016)... 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider of ... investigation, corrections and monitoring, announced today that it has ... have an independent technology judge determine who has the ... tech/sophisticated telephone calling platform, and the best customer service. ... most of what we do – which clearly is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... ... DNA microarray comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) for HER2 genomic subtyping in ... molecular test results from tumors with previously documented positive, negative, and equivocal ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... 01, 2016 , ... The Conference Forum has announced that the 3rd annual ... place on February 1-3, 2017 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Led ... a unique 360-degree approach, which addresses the most up-to-date information regarding business aspects, clinical ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... ... dedicated to collaboratively developing improved chemistry, manufacturing and control technologies for the ... UHPLC, with robust, probe-based sampling. , Online liquid chromatography analysis is ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , December 2, 2016 The ... 2021, growing at a CAGR of 7.3% during the forecast period ... hospitals and diagnostic laboratories segment accounted for the largest share of ... ... report on global immunohistochemistry (IHC) market spread across 225 pages, profiling ...
Breaking Biology Technology: