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BCF work shown in “Celebrating 50 years of Neuroscience Progress - a history of the Society for Neuroscience

Dec 14, 2021: In the recent book ‘Celebrating 50 years of Neuroscience Progress - a history of the Society for Neuroscience’, the Society for Neuroscience celebrates the groundbreaking advances made in the field of experimental and computational neuroscience during the last 50 years.
BCF work shown in “Celebrating 50 years of Neuroscience Progress - a history of the Society for Neuroscience

Neurons with stimulated cell motility self-organize into regularly spaced clusters arranging on a roughly hexagonal lattice. The homeostatic regulation of connectivity results in a high connectivity within clusters and weaker inter-cluster connectivity.

 Researcher Dr. Samora Okujeni from the Bernstein Center Freiburg receives attention in the book with his cover art image of Journal of Neuroscience issue1 with his report on self-organization of neuronal networks2. Not by chance, the book quotes Santiago Ramon Y Cajal stating in 1917 “I expressed the surprise which I experienced upon seeing with my own eyes the wonderful revelatory powers of the chromesilver reaction… ”. Likewise, but revealed by modern immunohistochemical techniques, the image by Samora Okujeni reveals with impressing beauty how neurons self-organize ex vivo in a dish. Questions immediately arise: What drives neurons to form such patterns or, even more, what would the impact of this be?

In his work, Samora Okujeni investigates fundamental principles of homeostatic and activity-dependent neuronal network development2–4. Based on in vitro experiments and computational models he showed that neurons self-organize into networks with varying degrees of modularity depending on the developmental interaction of cell migration and neurite outgrowth. The cover art image shows a network formed by cortical neurons in vitro with pharmacologically stimulated cell motility, which resulted in amazingly regularly spaced neuron clusters arranging on a roughly hexagonal lattice.

Samora’s current focus is now to unveil dependencies between the mesoscale architecture and functional properties of neuronal networks. His work lines up with many studies from the past 50 years dedicated to the understanding of basic structure-function relationships in brain circuits. Revealing such relationships is crucial for the understanding of transitions from healthy towards pathological brain states and the associated changes in behavior. 

The book is freely available on the homepage of the Society for Neuroscience. 


References

1. J. Neurosc, Vol. 37, Issue 14 (2017).

2. Okujeni, S., Kandler, S. & Egert, U. Mesoscale Architecture Shapes Initiation and Richness of Spontaneous Network Activity. J. Neurosci. 37, 3972–3987 (2017).

3. Okujeni, S. & Egert, U. Self-organization of modular network architecture by activity-dependent neuronal migration and outgrowth. Elife 8, (2019).

4. Okujeni, S. & Egert, U. Inhomogeneities in Network Structure and Excitability Govern Initiation and Propagation of Spontaneous Burst Activity. Front. Neurosci. 13, 543 (2019).

 

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