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Multi-electrode array recordings of neuronal avalanches in organotypic cultures.

  • Author(s): Plenz, Dietmar
  • Stewart, Craig V
  • Shew, Woodrow
  • Yang, Hongdian
  • Klaus, Andreas
  • Bellay, Tim
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://doi.org/10.3791/2949
Abstract

The cortex is spontaneously active, even in the absence of any particular input or motor output. During development, this activity is important for the migration and differentiation of cortex cell types and the formation of neuronal connections. In the mature animal, ongoing activity reflects the past and the present state of an animal into which sensory stimuli are seamlessly integrated to compute future actions. Thus, a clear understanding of the organization of ongoing i.e. spontaneous activity is a prerequisite to understand cortex function. Numerous recording techniques revealed that ongoing activity in cortex is comprised of many neurons whose individual activities transiently sum to larger events that can be detected in the local field potential (LFP) with extracellular microelectrodes, or in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the magnetoencephalogram (MEG), and the BOLD signal from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The LFP is currently the method of choice when studying neuronal population activity with high temporal and spatial resolution at the mesoscopic scale (several thousands of neurons). At the extracellular microelectrode, locally synchronized activities of spatially neighbored neurons result in rapid deflections in the LFP up to several hundreds of microvolts. When using an array of microelectrodes, the organizations of such deflections can be conveniently monitored in space and time. Neuronal avalanches describe the scale-invariant spatiotemporal organization of ongoing neuronal activity in the brain. They are specific to the superficial layers of cortex as established in vitro, in vivo in the anesthetized rat, and in the awake monkey. Importantly, both theoretical and empirical studies suggest that neuronal avalanches indicate an exquisitely balanced critical state dynamics of cortex that optimizes information transfer and information processing. In order to study the mechanisms of neuronal avalanche development, maintenance, and regulation, in vitro preparations are highly beneficial, as they allow for stable recordings of avalanche activity under precisely controlled conditions. The current protocol describes how to study neuronal avalanches in vitro by taking advantage of superficial layer development in organotypic cortex cultures, i.e. slice cultures, grown on planar, integrated microelectrode arrays (MEA).

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