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Do dissociated neural networks dream of electric sheep?


Project Description

Neuronal networks grown on petri dishes encode information as electrical activity. This activity is dictated by their underlying structural and functional connectivity. In my lab, we developed a fast and efficient protocol for generating motor neurons from mouse embryonic stem cells. These neurons are positive for the main neuronal markers (b-Tubulin III, MAP2, NeuN) and express markers excitatory neurotransmitters (Vglut). We want to seed these neurons on Microelectrode Arrays and further characterize them in terms of structure and function. In particular, we are interested in the development of connectivity in the network, and the exhibition of network wide cascades of activity, that can encode information. Depending on the probability distribution of the occurrence of a cascade, the neuronal network is said to be in a critical, sub-critical or super-critical state. We will explore correlations between network criticality and efficacy of information processing and encoding. The project will be hosted by the School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading. The University of Reading is one of the UK’s 20 most research-intensive universities and among the top 200 universities in the world. Achievements include the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement (1989) and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education (1998, 2006 and 2009). This project will take place in the Brain Embodiment Lab within Biomedical Engineering Section of the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), which has a strong reputation for its innovative research in cybernetics, and biomedical engineering, including Brain Computer Interfaces, animats - robots controlled by cultures of living neuronal cells and cognitive robotics systems. For informal inquiries please contact Dr. Evangelos Delivopoulos, email:

Funding Notes

"Applicants should have a bachelors with honours (at least 2.1 or equivalent) or masters degree in biomedical engineering or a strongly related discipline.

Strong analytic and programming skills are always desirable. Enthusiasm, willingness to learn experimental neuroscience and experience in either cell culture or programming is essential. "

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