The long term goal is the ability to design more complex, living but artificial neural tissues - a brain on a chip - for use principally as a model for fundamental neuroscience, but, in the process, making scientific progress relevant to neuroprosthetic electrical interfaces, biochip sensors for neuroactive drug screening and toxin testing, and insight into novel biomimetic approaches to computation. The technology should permit investigators novel insights into the nature of communication within neuronal networks, especially as to how the geometric form of the network helps determine its functionality. While the immediate project emphasizes two-dimensional networks, the lessons learned should help in creating and understanding three dimensional networks that will be better biomedical models. While the overall project is risky and perhaps radical, the immediate project is highly conservative in its emphasis on reliability, robustness and repeatability so that, as we begin to use these networks for scientific investigations, scientists are able to repeat the studies and establish statistical significance. This is a neuroengineering project at heart, emphasizing design, test, and system construction. Nonetheless it breaks new ground in the use of surface molecular cues to control multiple cell types and in the application of analytical techniques for the study of neural information transfer.
Specific Aim 1 : Reliable Geometric Neuronal Circuits, in which cultured neurons follow two-dimensional patterns with high fidelity for long times and with different cellular components.
Specific Aim 2 : Reliable Functional Neuronal Circuits, in which the stimulus-response patterns are repeatable from trial to trial, day to day, and culture to culture.
Specific Aim 3 : Neuronal Information Processing, the study of the efficiency with which output neural activity encode input stimuli, with special emphasis on how the spatial configuration of the neuronal circuit affects the encoding, on convergent information flow, and learning paradigms.
This research aims to create a """"""""brain on a chip"""""""" to permit researchers to better study how the brain processes information. Understanding gained should help improve brain prosthetic electrodes and may lead to new techniques for testing for drugs that may affect the nervous system.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MDCN-K (54))
Program Officer
Pancrazio, Joseph J
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Florida
Biomedical Engineering
Schools of Engineering
United States
Zip Code
Poli, Daniele; Wheeler, Bruce C; DeMarse, Thomas B et al. (2018) Pattern separation and completion of distinct axonal inputs transmitted via micro-tunnels between co-cultured hippocampal dentate, CA3, CA1 and entorhinal cortex networks. J Neural Eng 15:046009
Poli, Daniele; DeMarse, Thomas B; Wheeler, Bruce C et al. (2017) Specific CA3 neurons decode neural information of dentate granule cells evoked by paired-pulse stimulation in co-cultured networks. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2017:3628-3631
Narula, Udit; Ruiz, Andres; McQuaide, McKinley et al. (2017) Narrow microtunnel technology for the isolation and precise identification of axonal communication among distinct hippocampal subregion networks. PLoS One 12:e0176868
Poli, Daniele; Thiagarajan, Srikanth; DeMarse, Thomas B et al. (2017) Sparse and Specific Coding during Information Transmission between Co-cultured Dentate Gyrus and CA3 Hippocampal Networks. Front Neural Circuits 11:13
Alagapan, Sankaraleengam; Franca, Eric; Pan, Liangbin et al. (2016) Structure, Function, and Propagation of Information across Living Two, Four, and Eight Node Degree Topologies. Front Bioeng Biotechnol 4:15
DeMarse, Thomas B; Pan, Liangbin; Alagapan, Sankaraleengam et al. (2016) Feed-Forward Propagation of Temporal and Rate Information between Cortical Populations during Coherent Activation in Engineered In Vitro Networks. Front Neural Circuits 10:32
Franca, Eric; Jao, Pit Fee; Fang, Sheng-Po et al. (2016) Scale of Carbon Nanomaterials Affects Neural Outgrowth and Adhesion. IEEE Trans Nanobioscience 15:11-8
Bhattacharya, Aparajita; Desai, Harsh; DeMarse, Thomas B et al. (2016) Repeating Spatial-Temporal Motifs of CA3 Activity Dependent on Engineered Inputs from Dentate Gyrus Neurons in Live Hippocampal Networks. Front Neural Circuits 10:45
Pan, Liangbin; Alagapan, Sankaraleengam; Franca, Eric et al. (2015) An in vitro method to manipulate the direction and functional strength between neural populations. Front Neural Circuits 9:32
Pan, Liangbin; Alagapan, Sankaraleengam; Franca, Eric et al. (2014) Large extracellular spikes recordable from axons in microtunnels. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 22:453-9

Showing the most recent 10 out of 24 publications