Embodied Cultured Networks: interfacing cortical networks to robots and animats
Potter, Steve M.
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At the Laboratory for Neuroengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, we are creating a new research paradigm to span the gap between artificial neural network models and living animals. These "semi-living" animals consist of neurons from rodent cortex grown in vitro on multi-electrode arrays, with two-way (closed-loop) connections to artificial bodies, whether simulated or robotic. We use these embodied cultured networks to study the basis of information storage, processing and dynamics in neuronal circuits. Cultured networks have the advantage of being much simpler and more accessible than intact brains, while retaining much of their rich dynamics. We have developed methods for training cultured networks to control goal-directed behavior in animats by patterned multi-electrode stimulation. We also use multi-electrode stimulation to control epileptiform bursting in vitro. At the Emory University School of Medicine we are translating this in vitro technique to an in vivo rodent epilepsy model, with the hope of developing brain stimulation therapies for patients with intractable epilepsy.
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