The UNT TEST Center for Network Neuroscience was established
January 1, 1987 to facilitate transdisciplinary studies of the self-organization
and electrophysiological dynamics of mammalian networks in cell culture.
From the beginning, investigations have focused on exploration of basic
mechanisms and strategies underlying the phenomena of pattern generation,
recognition, storage, and fault tolerance in neuronal ensembles. Most investigations
use long-term multichannel monitoring of action potential (spike) traffic
in spontaneously active networks.
Our basic experimental strategy is to seed dissociated
cells from specific embryonic neural tissues onto beds of substrate integrated,
photoetched microelectrodes. A matrix of 64 shallow electrode craters in
a 1 sq. mm area serves to monitor much of the spike traffic within the
network and often provides a statistical sample of activity from neuronal
ensembles that are generally 2 to 4 mm in diameter.
Application of spontaneously active networks to the
fields of neurotoxicology, drug development, and biosensors are in progress.
These experimental platforms are well suited for the rapid screening of
compounds and allow the evaluation of physiological effects through changes
in the spontaneous activity patterns.