Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Network responsiveness modulated using tetanic based and STDP based stimulation protocols

A series of stimulation protocols have been designed and implemented in order to induce activity-dependent and pathway-specific modifications in cortical networks cultured over MEAs. The developed plasticity protocols are based on two stimulation paradigms presented in the literature, the Spike Timing Dependent Plasticity - STDP and the tetanic stimulation. The application of the two protocols clearly demonstrated the possibility to modulate the evoked response of a cortical network through a combination of specific stimulation patterns and by exploiting the features of the MEAs, which allow the delivery of stimulating signals from more than one site.

The developed tetanic protocol consists in the simultaneous application of a tetanus and a low frequency stimulation pattern (i.e. tetanic co-activation) from two different sites. The general effect consists in the increase of the evoked response of the network and seems to be long lasting, since a test stimulus executed one hour after the delivery of the tetanus continued to show high responses in most of the recording channels. A different result was obtained by using a single tetanus (i.e. without a co-activating site), one of the few proposed in literature as plasticity protocol for the neural preparations employed for this project. Only the first stimulation after the tetanus was able to increase the network response: we can assume that this effect is short-term.

Our innovative protocol does not affect only the entity of the evoked response, but also the timing (after the tetanus the evoked activity appears anticipated) and the recruitment process. By analysing the functional connectivity of the network and studying the changes in the pathways activated by each stimulating site, we found that a higher number of connections are involved after the tetanus and their strength results, in general, improved.

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University of Genova
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