BACKGROUND: We present a closed-loop system able to control the frequency of slow oscillations (SO) spontaneously generated by the cortical network in vitro. The frequency of SO can be controlled by direct current (DC) electric fields within a certain range. Here we set out to design a system that would be able to autonomously bring the emergent oscillatory activity to a target frequency determined by the experimenter.
METHODS: The cortical activity was recorded through an electrode and was analyzed online. Once a target frequency was set, the frequency of the slow oscillation was steered through the injection of DC of variable intensity that generated electric fields of proportional amplitudes in the brain slice. To achieve such closed-loop control, we designed a custom programmable stimulator ensuring low noise and accurate tuning over low current levels. For data recording and analysis, we relied on commercial acquisition and software tools.
RESULTS: The result is a flexible and reliable system that ensures control over SO frequency in vitro. The system guarantees artifact removal, minimal gaps in data acquisition and robustness in spite of slice heterogeneity.
CONCLUSIONS: Our tool opens new possibilities for the investigation of dynamics of cortical slow oscillations-an activity pattern that is associated with cognitive processes such as memory consolidation, and that is altered in several neurological conditions-and also for potential applications of this technology.
- Computational physics