In vitro large-scale experimental and theoretical studies for the realization of bi-directional brain-prosthese

Paolo Bonifazi, Francesco Difato, Paolo Massobrio, Gian Luca Breschi, Valentina Pasquale, Timothée Levi, Miri Goldin, Yannick Bornat, Mariateresa Tedesco, Marta Bisio, Sivan Kanner, Ronit Galron, Jacopo Tessadori, Stefano Taverna, Michela Chiappalone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain-machine interfaces (BMI) were born to control 'actions from thoughts' in order to recover motor capability of patients with impaired functional connectivity between the central and peripheral nervous system. The final goal of our studies is the development of a new proof-ofconcept BMI - a neuromorphic chip for brain repair - to reproduce the functional organization of a damaged part of the central nervous system. To reach this ambitious goal, we implemented a multidisciplinary 'bottom-up' approach in which in vitro networks are the paradigm for the development of an in silico model to be incorporated into a neuromorphic device. In this paper we present the overall strategy and focus on the different building blocks of our studies: (i) the experimental characterization and modeling of 'finite size networks' which represent the smallest and most general self-organized circuits capable of generating spontaneous collective dynamics; (ii) the induction of lesions in neuronal networks and the whole brain preparation with special attention on the impact on the functional organization of the circuits; (iii) the first production of a neuromorphic chip able to implement a real-time model of neuronal networks. A dynamical characterization of the finite size circuits with single cell resolution is provided. A neural network model based on Izhikevich neurons was able to replicate the experimental observations. Changes in the dynamics of the neuronal circuits induced by optical and ischemic lesions are presented respectively for in vitro neuronal networks and for a whole brain preparation. Finally the implementation of a neuromorphic chip reproducing the network dynamics in quasi-real time (10 ns precision) is presented.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Neural Circuits
Issue numberFEBRUARY 2013
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2013


  • Hardware Spiking Neural Network
  • In silico neuronal circuit
  • In vitro modular networks
  • Lesioned circuits
  • Whole brain


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