Lobachevsky University scientists perform research on human brain
26 July 2017
A team of UNN researchers headed by Dr. Maria Vedunova, Director of the Institute of Biology and Biomedicine (IBBM), is conducting unique studies of the human brain. The main feature of this research is that the processes occurring in the brain are studied at the level of the minimal functional unit of the nervous system - neural networks (a set that includes a group of neurons and their microenvironment) rather than at the level of single cells, as was customary for many years. In practice, it is almost impossible to study the functioning of neural networks at the level of the whole brain, therefore, the IBBM team uses embryonic brain cells of mice translated into primary neuronal cultures. The team’s work over several years has resulted in bringing convincing evidence that such cultures are an adequate biological model for studying brain neural network activity in vitro.
By combining primary neuronal cultures with modern electrophysiological techniques and optical neuroimaging methods, UNN scientists are able to carry out world-level research. Thus, for the first time in Russia, they have applied a technique for recording the bioelectrical activity of neural networks using multi-electrode arrays.
This technique, coupled with special software for the processing of bioelectric signals, makes it possible to evaluate the basic parameters of neural network activity and, more importantly, the contribution of its individual elements to the organization of the neural network response. The research conducted by the UNN scientists is aimed at developing new therapeutic strategies, which will reduce the level of disability and improve the quality of patients’ life, reduce the costs of their treatment and rehabilitation, and will contribute to enhancing Russia’s competitiveness in the world in the field of medicine.