Nanotechnology and Animal Models: High-Density Neural Probes

Clinical symptoms of PTSD result from neurophysiological dysfunction in specific neural circuits of the human brain. Significant progress has been made in delineating brain regions and identifying molecular factors involved in disease etiology. However, obtaining a mechanistic understanding of how the dynamic activity in specific neural circuits gives rise to mental dysfunction remains challenging. This is in part due to the lack of technologies for measuring and manipulating neural circuits in animal models with high resolution and precision.

We addressed this need by developing and validating novel, nanotechnology-based devices for electrical, optical, and fludic interfacing with the brain. Devices include high-density electrode arrays for large-scale electrophysiological recordings and ultracompact optoprobes for simultaneous electrophysiological recording and optogenetic stimulation.

Since many fundamental neural coding schemes, such as reinforcement  learning, are conserved from animals to humans, we believe that identifying specific neural coding deficits will increase the predictive value of preclinical models. This webinar explored how technologies that combine fluid injection and electrophysiological recording will allow for probing the effect of candidate treatments on neural activity and thereby facilitate discovery of novel cures.

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Webinar originally hosted Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at 12pm noon ET
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About Sebastian Haesler, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience at the University of Leuven
Sebastian Haesler received his doctoral degree from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Germany in 2006, after which he completed postdoctoral training with Prof. Nao Uchida at Harvard University. Dr. Haesler is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium and principal investigator and director of Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders (NERF), a young academic research initiative, founded by KU Leuven, VIB and imec with the goal to advance our understanding of brain function in health and disease, by using and developing novel technologies which integrate neurobiology and nano-scale engineering.

Research in Dr. Haesler’s lab focuses on how the brain generates prediction error signals in order to drive learning from reward and punishment, and also investigates the neural mechanisms underlying novelty detection and behavioral responses to novelty. His lab uses a combination of multielectrode recording and optogenetic techniques in awake, behaving mice. This approach allows for the precise characterization of neuronal firing and for testing the causal contribution of neural firing to specific aspects of behavior.

This and other work have contributed to Dr. Haesler’s numerous publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, such a Nature, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, PLoS Biology, and the Journal of Neuroscience, amongst others.

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