BRAINLEAP

Project Image:
Title of the project:

BRAINLEAP

Teasertext:
A quantum leap: from a spike-centred brain universe to its underlying synaptic landscape
Summary:
A breakthrough in Neuroscience
Start:
01.02.2013
End:
31.01.2016
Project leader:
Allgemeine Adresse Info
Project funding:
  • Europäische Union
Funding reference number:
?
Text:

BRAINLEAP aims to develop a breakthrough and revolutionary technological approach to
neural network modulation through the implantation of innovative microelectrodes in the cerebral
cortex of awake behaving rodents and primates. By allowing one to record (and stimulate) for very
long times, synaptic- and action-potentials from individual neurons, in the context of specific
sensorimotor integration tasks, the leap we propose might ultimately shift current paradigms
and theories, from spike-centred computation to its underlying subthreshold synaptic potentials
computation.

Description:

The richness of high-level cognitive and adaptive properties of the brain is reflected in the
complexity of its anatomy and (electro)physiology. At the cellular level, evolution privileged
an analog distributed information storage and encoding system through the temporal and spatial
integration of plastic and graded synaptic activity into all-or-none action potential output.
Since this output is sparse in the largest portion of the mammalian brain, the neocortex, subthreshold
synaptic and membrane electrical activities are dominant and therefore disclose the
details of single-neuron computations, neuronal identity and role, information processing and
synaptic read-out, as well as history-dependent dynamics of excitability and synaptic efficacy.
The long-term experimental access to subthreshold activity of many neurons simultaneously,
during behaviour and cognition, is therefore a requirement for the ultimate understanding
of brain function, its reverse engineering, as well as an unexplored alternative to neuroprosthetics.
BRAINLEAP aims to develop a breakthrough and revolutionary technological approach to
neural network modulation through the implantation of innovative microelectrodes in the cerebral
cortex of awake behaving rodents and primates. The innovative technique has already
been successfully applied in vitro and BRAINLEAP will improve and transfer it in vivo, thus
enabling the simultaneous, long-term, and independent recording and stimulation of the electrical
activity from hundreds of individual mammalian neurons, with a quality that in practice
matches the intracellular configuration. By allowing one to record (and stimulate) for very
long times, synaptic- and action-potentials from individual neurons, in the context of specific
sensorimotor integration tasks, the leap we propose might ultimately shift current paradigms
and theories, from spike-centred computation to its underlying subthreshold synaptic potentials
computation.

Project partners:
  • Sapienza University, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Stefano Ferraina
  • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Life Sciences, Dept. of Neurobiology, Micha Spira
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam, Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Group, Luc Gentet
  • University of Antwerp, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Michele Giugliano