University of Chicago Big Ideas Generator


Big Question: Emergent properties of neuronal networks: The next frontier in understanding brain function

University of Chicago Big Questions

Principal Investigator: Wim van Drongelen, Pediatrics

Funding Type: Vision

Focus Area: Complexity

Big Idea: This (BIG) idea is to create a novel approach to fundamentally change the way neuronal networks can be controlled and investigated. We will develop a tool to study networks by allowing an experimenter to accurately dial neuronal network properties and monitor effects on neural activity in real time. We specifically address the lack of techniques to perturb and control network connectivity with sufficient temporal precision, spatial resolution, and spatial range by employing a combination of technologies: real-time digital signal processing (DSP), digital light projection (DLP), and microelectrode arrays (MEAs). We have successfully developed a limited prototype device, and this proposal will allow us to complete our tool, which has been repeatedly been considered too high risk by different funding sources, and jump-start our research on network mechanisms underlying seizures and strategies to abort them. 

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