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1.  Modiolus-Hugging Intracochlear Electrode Array with Shape Memory Alloy 
In the cochlear implant system, the distance between spiral ganglia and the electrodes within the volume of the scala tympani cavity significantly affects the efficiency of the electrical stimulation in terms of the threshold current level and spatial selectivity. Because the spiral ganglia are situated inside the modiolus, the central axis of the cochlea, it is desirable that the electrode array hugs the modiolus to minimize the distance between the electrodes and the ganglia. In the present study, we propose a shape-memory-alloy-(SMA-) embedded intracochlear electrode which gives a straight electrode a curved modiolus-hugging shape using the restoration force of the SMA as triggered by resistive heating after insertion into the cochlea. An eight-channel ball-type electrode array is fabricated with an embedded titanium-nickel SMA backbone wire. It is demonstrated that the electrode array changes its shape in a transparent plastic human cochlear model. To verify the safe insertion of the electrode array into the human cochlea, the contact pressures during insertion at the electrode tip and the contact pressures over the electrode length after insertion were calculated using a 3D finite element analysis. The results indicate that the SMA-embedded electrode is functionally and mechanically feasible for clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3665180  PMID: 23762181
2.  Low-Density Neuronal Networks Cultured using Patterned Poly-L-Lysine on Microelectrode Arrays 
Journal of neuroscience methods  2006;160(2):317-326.
Synaptic activity recorded from low-density networks of cultured rat hippocampal neurons was monitored using microelectrode arrays (MEAs). Neuronal networks were patterned with poly-L-lysine (PLL) using microcontact printing (µCP). Polydimethysiloxane (PDMS) stamps were fabricated with relief structures resulting in patterns of 2 µm-wide lines for directing process growth and 20 µm-diameter circles for cell soma attachment. These circles were aligned to electrode sites. Different densities of neurons were plated in order to assess the minimal neuron density required for development of an active network. Spontaneous activity was observed at 10–14 days in networks using neuron densities as low as 200 cells/mm2. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated the distribution of dendrites along the lines and the location of foci of the presynaptic protein, synaptophysin, on neuron somas and dendrites. Scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that single fluorescent tracks contained multiple processes. Evoked responses of selected portions of the networks were produced by stimulation of specific electrode sites. In addition, the neuronal excitability of the network was increased by the bath application of high K+ (10–12 mM). Application of DNQX, an AMPA antagonist, blocked all spontaneous activity, suggesting that the activity is excitatory and mediated through glutamate receptors.
PMCID: PMC2767260  PMID: 17049614
synapse formation; microelectrode arrays; microcontact printing; neural networks
3.  Deep brain optical measurements of cell type–specific neural activity in behaving mice 
Nature protocols  2014;9(6):1213-1228.
Recent advances in genetically encoded fluorescent sensors enable the monitoring of cellular events from genetically defined groups of neurons in vivo. In this protocol, we describe how to use a time-correlated single-photon counting (tcspc)–based fiber optics system to measure the intensity, emission spectra and lifetime of fluorescent biosensors expressed in deep brain structures in freely moving mice. When combined with cre-dependent selective expression of genetically encoded ca2+ indicators (GecIs), this system can be used to measure the average neural activity from a specific population of cells in mice performing complex behavioral tasks. as an example, we used viral expression of GcaMps in striatal projection neurons (spns) and recorded the fluorescence changes associated with calcium spikes from mice performing a lever-pressing operant task. the whole procedure, consisting of virus injection, behavior training and optical recording, takes 3–4 weeks to complete. With minor adaptations, this protocol can also be applied to recording cellular events from other cell types in deep brain regions, such as dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area. the simultaneously recorded fluorescence signals and behavior events can be used to explore the relationship between the neural activity of specific brain circuits and behavior.
PMCID: PMC4100551  PMID: 24784819
4.  Concurrent Activation of Striatal Direct and Indirect Pathways During Action Initiation 
Nature  2013;494(7436):238-242.
The basal ganglia are subcortical nuclei that control voluntary actions, and are affected by a number of debilitating neurological disorders1–4. The prevailing model of basal ganglia function proposes that two orthogonal projection circuits originating from distinct populations of spiny projection neurons (SPNs) in the striatum5,6 - the so-called direct and indirect pathways - have opposing effects on movement: while activity of direct-pathway SPNs purportedly facilitates movement, activity of indirect-pathway SPNs inhibits movement1,2. This model has been difficult to test due to the lack of methods to selectively measure the activity of direct- and indirect-pathway SPNs in freely moving animals. We developed a novel in-vivo method that allowed us to specifically measure direct- and indirect-pathway SPN activity using Cre-dependent viral expression of the genetically encoded calcium indicator (GECI) GCAMP3 in the dorsal striatum of D1-Cre (direct-pathway specific6,7) and A2A-Cre (indirect-pathway specific8,9) mice10. Using fiber optics and time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) in mice performing an operant task, we observed transient increases in neural activity in both direct- and indirect-pathway SPNs when animals initiated actions, but not when they were inactive. Concurrent activation of SPNs from both pathways in one hemisphere preceded the initiation of contraversive movements, and predicted the occurrence of specific movements within 500 ms. These observations challenge the classical view of basal ganglia function, and may have implications for understanding the origin of motor symptoms in basal ganglia disorders.
PMCID: PMC4039389  PMID: 23354054
5.  In-vivo Optical Measurement of Neural Activity in the Brain 
Experimental Neurobiology  2013;22(3):158-166.
The optical neural recording techniques are promising tools in recent years. Compared to the traditional electrophysiological recording, the optical means offer several advantages including no inclusion of electrical noise, simultaneous imaging of a large number of neurons, or selective recording from genetically-targeted neurons. Overall the optical neural recording technique comprises the intrinsic and the extrinsic optical recordings. The methods for intrinsic neural recording employ the change of optical properties in brains such as blood flow/oxygenation, cellular volume change, or refractive index change without addition of external indicators. Those properties can be detected using various optical techniques including laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF), near-infrared (NIR) spectrometer, functional optical coherence tomography (fOCT), and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The extrinsic monitoring techniques use fluorescence signals reflecting neuronal activity via chemical or genetic modification of the neuronal cells. Two most popular activity-dependent fluorescent probes, calcium indicators and voltage-sensitive fluorescent proteins will be examined in this review. The principles, the instrumentations and in vivo applications of those optical signal measurements are described.
PMCID: PMC3807003  PMID: 24167411
optical neural recording; intrinsic optical recording; extrinsic optical recording; calcium indicators; voltage-sensitive fluorescent protein (VSFP)
6.  N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamide promotes development of hippocampal neurons 
The Biochemical journal  2011;435(2):327-336.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6,n−3) has been shown to promote neurite growth and synaptogenesis in embryonic hippocampal neurons, supporting the importance of DHA known for hippocampus-related learning and memory function. In the present study, we demonstrate that DHA metabolism to DEA (N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide) is a significant mechanism for hippocampal neuronal development, contributing to synaptic function. We found that a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor URB597 potentiates DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression. Active metabolism of DHA to DEA was observed in embryonic day 18 hippocampal neuronal cultures, which was increased further by URB597. Synthetic DEA promoted hippocampal neurite growth and synaptogenesis at substantially lower concentrations in comparison with DHA. DEA-treated neurons increased the expression of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits and exhibited enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity, as was the case for DHA. The DEA level in mouse fetal hippocampi was altered according to the maternal dietary supply of n−3 fatty acids, suggesting that DEA formation is a relevant in vivo process responding to the DHA status. In conclusion, DHA metabolism to DEA is a significant biochemical mechanism for neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression, leading to enhanced glutamatergic synaptic function. The novel DEA-dependent mechanism offers a new molecular insight into hippocampal neurodevelopment and function.
PMCID: PMC3169088  PMID: 21281269
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide (DEA); hippocampus; neurite growth; neuron; synaptogenesis
7.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging Compatibility of the Polymer-based Cochlear Implant 
In this study, we compared the magnetic resonance (MR) image artifacts caused by a conventional metal-based cochlear implant and a newly developed liquid crystal polymer (LCP)-based device.
The metal-based cochlear implant system (Nurobiosys Co.) was attached to side of the head of a subject and the LCP-based device was attached to opposite side. In both devices, alignment magnets were removed for safety. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed on a widely used 3.0 T and an ultra-high 7.0 T MRI machine. 3.0 and 7.0 T MR images were acquired using T1- and T2*-weighted gradient echo sequences, respectively.
In the 3.0 T images, the metal-based device on the left side generated the significant amount of artifacts. The MR images in the proximity of the metal package were obscured by the artifacts in both axial and sagittal views. On the other hand, the MR images near the LCP-based device were relatively free from the artifacts and clearly showed the brain structures. 7.0 T MR images showed the more severe distortion in the both sides but the metal-based cochlear implant system caused a much larger obscure area than the LCP-based system.
The novel LCP-based cochlear implant provides a good MRI compatibility beyond present-day cochlear implants. Thus, MR images can be obtained from the subjects even with the implanted LCP-based neural prosthetic systems providing useful diagnostic information. Furthermore, it will be also useful for functional MRI studies of the auditory perception mechanism after cochlear implantations as well as for positron emission tomography-MRI hybrid imaging.
PMCID: PMC3369977  PMID: 22701769
Cochlear implant; Magnetic resonance imaging; MRI compatibility
8.  Vibrodissociation of Neurons from Rodent Brain Slices to Study Synaptic Transmission and Image Presynaptic Terminals 
Mechanical dissociation of neurons from the central nervous system has the advantage that presynaptic boutons remain attached to the isolated neuron of interest. This allows for examination of synaptic transmission under conditions where the extracellular and postsynaptic intracellular environments can be well controlled. A vibration-based technique without the use of proteases, known as vibrodissociation, is the most popular technique for mechanical isolation. A micropipette, with the tip fire-polished to the shape of a small ball, is placed into a brain slice made from a P1-P21 rodent. The micropipette is vibrated parallel to the slice surface and lowered through the slice thickness resulting in the liberation of isolated neurons. The isolated neurons are ready for study within a few minutes of vibrodissociation. This technique has advantages over the use of primary neuronal cultures, brain slices and enzymatically isolated neurons including: rapid production of viable, relatively mature neurons suitable for electrophysiological and imaging studies; superior control of the extracellular environment free from the influence of neighboring cells; suitability for well-controlled pharmacological experiments using rapid drug application and total cell superfusion; and improved space-clamp in whole-cell recordings relative to neurons in slice or cell culture preparations. This preparation can be used to examine synaptic physiology, pharmacology, modulation and plasticity. Real-time imaging of both pre- and postsynaptic elements in the living cells and boutons is also possible using vibrodissociated neurons. Characterization of the molecular constituents of pre- and postsynaptic elements can also be achieved with immunological and imaging-based approaches.
PMCID: PMC3197124  PMID: 21654624
9.  Docosahexaenoic acid promotes hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;111(2):510-521.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), the major polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulated in the brain during development, has been implicated in learning and memory, but underlying cellular mechanisms are not clearly understood. Here, we demonstrate that DHA significantly affects hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function in developing hippocampi. In embryonic neuronal cultures, DHA supplementation uniquely promoted neurite growth, synapsin puncta formation and synaptic protein expression, particularly synapsins and glutamate receptors. In DHA-supplemented neurons, spontaneous synaptic activity was significantly increased, mostly because of enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity. Conversely, hippocampal neurons from DHA-depleted fetuses showed inhibited neurite growth and synaptogenesis. Furthermore, n-3 fatty acid deprivation during development resulted in marked decreases of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits in the hippocampi of 18-day-old pups with concomitant impairment of long-term potentiation, a cellular mechanism underlying learning and memory. While levels of synapsins and NMDA receptor subunit NR2A were decreased in most hippocampal regions, NR2A expression was particularly reduced in CA3, suggesting possible role of DHA in CA3-NMDA receptor-dependent learning and memory processes. The DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis, synapsin, and glutamate receptor expression, and glutamatergic synaptic function may represent important cellular aspects supporting the hippocampus-related cognitive function improved by DHA.
PMCID: PMC2773444  PMID: 19682204
docosahexaenoic acid; hippocampal development; long-term potentiation; neurite growth; synaptic function; synaptogenesis
10.  Modulation of cultured neural networks using neurotrophin release from hydrogel-coated microelectrode arrays 
Journal of neural engineering  2008;5(2):203-213.
Polyacrylamide and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogels were synthesized and characterized for use as drug-release and substrates for neuron cell culture. Protein release kinetics was determined by incorporating bovine serum albumin (BSA) into hydrogels during polymerization. To determine if hydrogel incorporation and release affects bioactivity, alkaline phosphatase was incorporated into hydrogels and released enzyme activity determined using the fluorescence-based ELF-97 assay. Hydrogels were then used to deliver brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from hydrogels polymerized over planar microelectrode arrays (MEA). Primary hippocampal neurons were cultured on both control and neurotrophin-containing hydrogel-coated MEAs. The effect of released BDNF on neurite length and process arborization was investigated using automated image analysis. Increased spontaneous activity as a response to released BDNF was recorded from the neurons cultured on top of hydrogel layers. These results demonstrate that proteins of biological interest can be incorporated into hydrogels to modulate development and function of cultured neural networks. These results also set the stage for development of hydrogel-coated neural prosthetic devices for local delivery of various biologically active molecules.
PMCID: PMC2767261  PMID: 18477815
poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate; polyacrylamide; hydrogel; drug release; microelectrode arrays

Results 1-10 (10)