Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Computerised aid for advanced neuroscience

The newly developed Neural Signal Manager (NSM) is a flexible, highly customisable software tool that allows for the acquisition, analysis and characterisation of neuronal electrophysiological signals. The tool may be used for the in-depth investigation of neural codes and would be of substantial aid to neuroscientists who want to understand how neuronal networks work.
Computerised aid for advanced neuroscience
In an effort to analyse neurodynamics, scientists normally employ simplified, bi-dimensional neurobiological systems coming from ex-vivo cultured neuronal networks. These neurobiological models offer the quantitative characterisation of important collective and functional electrophysiological properties.

One of the most valuable experimental methods for the long-term analysis of dynamics of large neuronal networks uses Multi Electrode Arrays (MEAs) coupled to in-vitro neuronal populations. With this technique recording of electrophysiological dynamics is extracellular; that is external to the living material, thus without damaging neurons. Hence, recording and electrical stimulation can be prolonged for several days.

Coupled to a MEA1060 transducer system, the developed user-friendly software tool offers increased capabilities of acquisition and analysis of real-time data. It involves a Windows-based client/server application specially designed for the in-vitro analysis of neuronal networks. The software includes three key components, namely a Graphical User Interface (GUI), Acquisition (ACQ) and Post-Processing (PP).

The GUI part specifies important parameters for configuration of the experimental session. The ACQ part is responsible for real-time sampling and storage of the electrophysiological signals directly on the hard disk. Finally, the PP component detects spikes and saves their peaks thus providing information in the form of spike timestamps and spike peak-to-peak amplitudes.

Apart from this, the software is also capable of implementing algorithms that are most commonly used by neuroscience. These involve histograms, including Inter Spike Interval, Joint Inter Spike Interval, Post Stimulus Time, Inter Burst Interval, Joint Inter Burst and Cross Conditional Inter Burst histograms. The reliable and accurate mathematical methods and algorithms used enable the extraction of global averaged neuronal behaviours from simultaneously recorded signals coming from multi-channels.

The innovation of this software tool relies on the easy management of multi-channel-long-term recording signals with real-time time-stamping of the events. In addition, signal processing becomes less time consuming offering a complete dynamic characterization of the neuronal network, at levels of both macro and micro variables.

License agreement is sought with electrophysiology and neuro-engineering laboratories as well as pharmaceutical industries since it may be suited for fast pharmacological in-vitro comparison tests.
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