External excitation of neurons using electric and magnetic fields in one- and two-dimensional cultures

Shani Stern, Assaf Rotem, Yuri Burnishev, Eyal Weinreb, Elisha Moses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54357
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number123
StatePublished - 7 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Journal of Visualized Experiments.


  • Calcium imaging
  • Chronaxie
  • Electric stimulation
  • Issue 123
  • Magnetic stimulation
  • Neuronal networks
  • Neuroscience
  • Patterned cultures
  • Rheobase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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