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Dynamics in Small Neuronal Networks

Elisha Moses, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel :

Title: Dynamics in Small Neuronal Networks

Abstract:  Cultured networks of neurons from rat hippocampus constitute a fascinating and important model for biological computation. While the individual neurons retain their physiological characteristics as in the intact brain, the structure and connectivity they generate in the network is much simpler to measure and analyze, and therefore to engineer and design. We have studied a variety of patterns and configurations of neurons, unraveling much of the intricate network structure underlying the dynamics of these cultures. We present measurements of information, propagation and structure both in 1d and 2d geometries, which underlie the computational capability of the culture. Two dimensional excitation dynamics are dominated by a percolation process in which a quorum is recruited for exciting a single neuron. One dimensional patterns allow the construction of logical devices, as well as the unraveling of fundamental questions related to the excitation of single neurons by an external field. We end by using this approach to show that pathology in neurons from Down Syndrome mice models is dominated by perturbed potassium channel regulation.

BIO:  E. Moses was born in the United States in 1956. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, in 1981 and the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, in 1983 and 1988, respectively. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Physics of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science. His research is focused on understanding the physics of the brain and of neural activity.