Learning in human neural networks on microelectrode arrays

Biosystems. 2007 Mar;88(1-2):1-15. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2006.03.012. Epub 2006 Apr 18.


This paper describes experiments involving the growth of human neural networks of stem cells on a MEA (microelectrode array) support. The microelectrode arrays (MEAs) are constituted by a glass support in which a set of tungsten electrodes are inserted. The artificial neural network (ANN) paradigm was used by stimulating the neurons in parallel with digital patterns distributed on eight channels, then by analyzing a parallel multichannel output. In particular, the microelectrodes were connected following two different architectures, one inspired by the Kohonen's SOM, the other by the Hopfield network. The output signals have been analyzed in order to evaluate the possibility of organized reactions by the natural neurons.f The results show that the network of human neurons reacts selectively to the subministered digital signals, i.e., it produces similar output signals referred to identical or similar patterns, and clearly differentiates the outputs coming from different stimulations. Analyses performed with a special artificial neural network called ITSOM show the possibility to codify the neural responses to different patterns, thus to interpret the signals coming from the network of biological neurons, assigning a code to each output. It is straightforward to verify that identical codes are generated by the neural reactions to similar patterns. Further experiments are to be designed that improve the hybrid neural networks' capabilities and to test the possibility of utilizing the organized answers of the neurons in several ways.

MeSH terms

  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Microelectrodes
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Systems Biology