A neuron will fire an action potential when its membrane potential exceeds a certain threshold. In typical activity of the brain, this occurs as a result of chemical inputs to its synapses. However, neurons can also be excited by an imposed electric field. In particular, recent clinical applications activate neurons by creating an electric field externally. It is therefore of interest to investigate how the neuron responds to the external field and what causes the action potential. Fortunately, precise and controlled application of an external electric field is possible for embryonic neuronal cells that are excised, dissociated and grown in cultures. This allows the investigation of these questions in a highly reproducible system. In this paper some of the techniques used for controlled application of external electric field on neuronal cultures are reviewed. The networks can be either one dimensional, i.e. patterned in linear forms or allowed to grow on the whole plane of the substrate, and thus two dimensional. Furthermore, the excitation can be created by the direct application of electric field via electrodes immersed in the fluid (bath electrodes) or by inducing the electric field using the remote creation of magnetic pulses.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Ofer Feinerman, Fred Wolf, Menahem Segal, Andreas Neef and Eitan Reuveny for very helpful discussions. The authors thank Ilan Breskin and Jordi Soriano for developing early versions of the technology. The authors thank Tsvi Tlusty and Jean-Pierre Eckmann for help with the theoretical concepts. This research was supported by the Minerva Foundation, the Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel, and by Israel Science Foundation grant 1320/09 and the Bi-National Science Foundation grant 2008331.
© 2017 Journal of Visualized Experiments.
- Calcium imaging
- Electric stimulation
- Issue 123
- Magnetic stimulation
- Neuronal networks
- Patterned cultures
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)
- Chemical Engineering (all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Immunology and Microbiology (all)