Neuroscience

Tissue mimics brain's cortical layers

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Science  22 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6199, pp. 887
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6199.887-a

Brainlike tissue is a practical test bed

PHOTO: TUFTS UNIVERSITY

They may look like Play-Doh, but these colorful spongy rings are alive and may one day even learn. Tang-Schomer et al. engineered the rings to mimic the structure and function of the six layers of human cortical brain tissue. The researchers coaxed the neurons to grow around a matrix of silk proteins immersed in collagen gel. The cells cling to the structure as they branch out and connect, forming 3D networks resembling real neural circuits, the authors say. The team hopes to keep the neuronal sponge alive for 6 months, longer than any previous model, to study how its neural networks respond to insults such as disease or traumatic injury, and perhaps to see if its activity is altered by experience, a form of learning.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1324214111.(2014).

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