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Searching for plasticity in dissociated cortical cultures on multi-electrode arrays

Daniel A Wagenaar12*, Jerome Pine3 and Steve M Potter4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Caltech 103-33, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

2 Present address: Division of Biological Sciences, Neuroscience Section, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

3 Department of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Caltech 256-48, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

4 Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, 313 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332-0535, USA

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Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine 2006, 5:16  doi:10.1186/1477-5751-5-16

Published: 26 October 2006


We attempted to induce functional plasticity in dense cultures of cortical cells using stimulation through extracellular electrodes embedded in the culture dish substrate (multi-electrode arrays, or MEAs). We looked for plasticity expressed in changes in spontaneous burst patterns, and in array-wide response patterns to electrical stimuli, following several induction protocols related to those used in the literature, as well as some novel ones. Experiments were performed with spontaneous culture-wide bursting suppressed by either distributed electrical stimulation or by elevated extracellular magnesium concentrations as well as with spontaneous bursting untreated. Changes concomitant with induction were no larger in magnitude than changes that occurred spontaneously, except in one novel protocol in which spontaneous bursts were quieted using distributed electrical stimulation.