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Proc IEEE Inst Electr Electron Eng. 2010 Mar 1;98(3):398-406.

Designing Neural Networks in Culture: Experiments are described for controlled growth, of nerve cells taken from rats, in predesigned geometrical patterns on laboratory culture dishes.

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  • 1Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA. Departments of Bioengineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Neuroscience Program and Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801 USA ( ).


Technology has advanced to where it is possible to design and grow-with predefined geometry and surprisingly good fidelity-living networks of neurons in culture dishes. Here we overview the elements of design, emphasizing the lithographic techniques that alter the cell culture surface which in turn influences the attachment and growth of the neural networks. Advanced capability in this area makes it possible to design networks of desired complexity. Other issues addressed include the influence of glial cells and media on activity and the potential for extending the designs into three dimensions. Investigators are advancing the art and science of analyzing and controlling through stimulation the function of the neural networks, including the ability to take advantage of their geometric form in order to influence functional properties.

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