Unraveling Spontaneous Activity in Neuronal Cultures

Barcelona Computational and Systems Neuroscience (BARCCSYN) 2011
Barceona, Spain. 14-15 June 2011


Brain rhythms, retinal waves, epileptic seizures, Parkinsons tremors and many other neurological processes share a common feature: they are driven by the spontaneous activity of neuronal networks. And yet, the origins of this activity remain poorly understood. In order to approach a quantitative understanding of the common mechanisms that initiate and sustain spontaneous activity in neuronal networks we focus our attention on neuronal cultures. Studying cultures both experimentally and theoretically we can unravel how spontaneous activity can emerge and be maintained. In this talk we present new experimental evidence that verifies the hypothesis that spontaneous activity in cultures is not a synchronous process. It is a localized process in which activity initiates in specific areas and propagates throughout the system. We also support this claim with theoretical work that explains the physical processes that are involved in the initiation of this activity. The internal structure of the network that is obtained through the growth process of the culture is key to understand how this spontaneous activity can emerge.

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