Researchers at Harvard University have been looking to study how neurons from different regions of the brain interact and are affected by a variety of chemical stimuli. They have built a “brain-on-chip” device that links together neuronal cells harvested from three different brain regions (amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex). These can then be introduced to different chemical compounds, as well as physical stress, and the living cells evaluated on how they respond.
The device may help researchers study various neurological conditions and assess how drugs and other therapies may be affecting the brain. “The brain is so much more than individual neurons,” said Ben Maoz, co-first author of the paper in a press release. “It’s about the different types of cells and the connectivity between different regions of the brain. When modeling the brain, you need to be able to recapitulate that connectivity because there are many different diseases that attack those connections.”
The team already used the chip to study how phencyclidine (PCP), a drug that famously produces symptoms of schizophrenia, when introduced to one type of neurons, affected other neurons connected further down.
Study in Journal of Neurophysiology: Neurons derived from different brain regions are inherently different in vitro: A novel multiregional brain-on-a-chip…