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Micro-technologies to constrain neuronal networks

Vishwanathan, Ashwin (2011) Micro-technologies to constrain neuronal networks. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Micro-technologies broadly encompass a range of technologies that deal with the developmentof tools on the order of a few microns. These tools have made steady inroads into traditionalbiology and have helped probe the functioning of cells on the order of tens of microns.The objective of this work was to use engineering techniques to ask specific questions inneuroscience.Using two different techniques, namely microcontact printing and microfluidics we suc-cessfully restricted the spread of networks of neurons to defined geometries. In the formercase, we chose to restrict networks to 'ring' shaped geometries, in order to study emergentreverberating properties in the resulting network. Ring shaped neuronal networks displayedreverberatory activity upon brief stimulation. This reverberatory activity was enhancedwhen network inhibition was abolished pharmacologically. Finally the effect of varying geometric parameters on this form of network activity was assessed. Here we found that smallchanges in the geometry did not have any significant effect on the reverberatory activity.In the second case, we restricted networks of neurons inside microfluidic devices. Thesemicrofluidic devices were capable of maintaining two populations of neurons in a fluidicallyisolated manner. The two populations communicated via microgrooves that allowed axons to reach across either population. We integrated an electrophysiological framework onto themicrofluidic device such that one of the two populations could be electrically stimulated. Weshow, using calcium imaging it was possible to stimulate neurons inside these devices.In conclusion, we have demonstrated the use of micro-technologies to constrain neuronalnetworks to specific geometries. We show here the emergence of reverberation in 'ring'shaped networks. Finally, we also created a novel microfluidic platform to culture neuronsfor extended periods of time.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairZeringue,
Committee MemberDavidson, Lancelad43@pitt.eduLAD43
Committee MemberCho, Sung Kwonskcho@pitt.eduSKCHO
Committee MemberCui, Tracyxic11@pitt.eduXIC11
Date: 27 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 10 November 2010
Approval Date: 27 June 2011
Submission Date: 18 January 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Calcium imaging; Electrophysiology; Micro-technology; Microcontact printing; Microfluidics; Neuronal networks; Reverberation
Other ID:, etd-01182011-132821
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:36


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