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Publication: Using Engineering to Control Brain Signals

By 30th October 2020 No Comments
Geoflly Adonias has been a researcher in the area of Computational Neuroscience under TSSG’s Brain Initiative and recently published a paper in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience journal. The paper titled ‘Reconfigurable Filtering of Neuro-Spike Communications using Synthetically Engineered Logic Circuits’ investigates the methods of using engineering concepts to control our brain signals to develop less aggressive treatments for neurological disorders. Geoflly outlines his findings and applications of this research.

 

Outline the paper

Neurons are the main biocomputing units in the brain, and they process neuronal information via neuron-to-neuron information by exchanging (firing) electrical impulses called action potentials. Neuroscientists and neurobiologists are directing efforts and resources aiming to explore these capabilities for more precise and less aggressive treatments for neurodegeneration.

This neuronal communication helps to strengthen the connections between neurons that play a role in vital brain mechanisms such as memory formation, information processing and adequate response to damage or dysfunction. To achieve the full potential of this neuronal signaling, we need mathematical models which can describe its behaviour and provide insights on how this would affect subsequent networks of neurons in the brain.

This work uses the idea of using neurons as logic gates and, for the first time, explores the dynamic behaviour of neurons and neuronal networks to provide a synthetic engineered arrangement of neurons that could be reconfigurable after deployment. It demonstrates the impact of how controlling (filtering) the neuronal signalling can minimize the effects of high frequency firing usually caused by epileptic seizures. It also shows that, by reconfiguring it on the fly, we are able to fine-tune its effects with regards to whatever task is being performed by the subject, i.e. subject is asleep or awake.

“Using Engineering to Control Brain Signals”

Caption: “Engineered neuronal digital logic circuit, where each gate is composed of three neurons and each block W(s) represents one neuron as a transfer function to enable communication metric analysis.”

Who will it help?

This work is paving the way for more sophisticated and less aggressive approaches to neurodegeneration by providing a platform of simulation and analysis of potential treatments for neurological disorders such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. On the other hand, current treatments pose major side effects and highly invasive procedures.

What is the future of this research?

This research may lead to the analysis of how non-neuronal cells, e.g. astrocytes, may also contribute to the filtering of high frequency signalling, and how larger networks can work as a single filtering unit in the brain instead of using small groups of neurons

We believe the proposed work will contribute to a wide range of areas of research such as pharmacology, synthetic biology and computational neuroscience, by showing how the control of neuronal communication among a neuronal network can affect the way action potentials propagate inside the brain.

This contribution may trigger the development of new agents, e.g. pharmaceuticals, that could help modify the proposed synthetic arrangements, and control the neuronal signalling on the fly while minimizing side effects, and providing a less aggressive long-term solution

 

Publication Title: Reconfigurable Filtering of Neuro-Spike Communications using Synthetically Engineered Logic Circuits

Authors: Geoflly L. Adonias, Harun Siljak, Michael T. Barros, Nicola Marchetti, Mark White and Sasitharan Balasubramaniam

Publication Date: 15 October 2020

Journal: Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience

Link to publication: https://doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2020.556628