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Front Neural Circuits. 2013 Dec 18;7:199. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00199. eCollection 2013.

Identification of neuronal network properties from the spectral analysis of calcium imaging signals in neuronal cultures.

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Neurophysics Laboratory, Departament d'Estructura i Constituents de la Matèria, Universitat de Barcelona Barcelona, Spain.
Neurophysiology Laboratory, Division of Neurosciences, CIMA, Universidad de Navarra Pamplona, Spain.


Neuronal networks in vitro are prominent systems to study the development of connections in living neuronal networks and the interplay between connectivity, activity and function. These cultured networks show a rich spontaneous activity that evolves concurrently with the connectivity of the underlying network. In this work we monitor the development of neuronal cultures, and record their activity using calcium fluorescence imaging. We use spectral analysis to characterize global dynamical and structural traits of the neuronal cultures. We first observe that the power spectrum can be used as a signature of the state of the network, for instance when inhibition is active or silent, as well as a measure of the network's connectivity strength. Second, the power spectrum identifies prominent developmental changes in the network such as GABAA switch. And third, the analysis of the spatial distribution of the spectral density, in experiments with a controlled disintegration of the network through CNQX, an AMPA-glutamate receptor antagonist in excitatory neurons, reveals the existence of communities of strongly connected, highly active neurons that display synchronous oscillations. Our work illustrates the interest of spectral analysis for the study of in vitro networks, and its potential use as a network-state indicator, for instance to compare healthy and diseased neuronal networks.


GABA switch; excitation-inhibition balance; multineuron calcium imaging; network development; neuronal cultures; spectral analysis; synchronous oscillations

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