The brain appears as operating through the joint action of very large assemblies of neurons and by involving signaling occurring over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, i.e. from molecules and cells, up to entire brain circuits. However, present-day neurotechnologies typically miss the recording of a large number of single-neurons simultaneously.
This has resulted in fundamental bottlenecks in understanding how neural assemblies operate and are organized at the microscale; in unravelling early processes underlying brain diseases and in progressing with the development of effective neurotechnologies for clinical neuroprosthetics, for neuro-pharmacological/toxicological screenings as well as for deriving brain-inspired artificial ICTs.
To face this challenge we are converging a multidisciplinary research effort where scientists in neuroscience, engineering, biophysics and computational R&D work in synergy on the development and experimental use of platforms integrating novel generations of sensing devices realized with microelectronics, micro-/nano-structuring and biotechnologies.
The NetS3 ‘s strategic plan develops within the IIT BrainTech program (2015-2019) and through several collaborations with other IIT laboratories as well as international collaboration schemes with academic and industrial entities.
The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the art instrumentation for hardware development, data storage and for computation and uses the clean-room and animal facilities of IIT. Experimental research is integrated in the lab by focusing on neuronal networks, retinal whole mounts, and brain slices as well as on the development of cell culture based pre-clinical assays.
Research at the NetS3 is organized into four research lines:
Active multielectrode arrays with several thousands of simultaneously recording electrodes and on-chip ultra-low-power circuits for amplification, filtering and multiplexing are designed in the lab with standard CMOS technology. Our effort is to take the design and validation of these innovative CMOS neuroelectronic probes forward, by developing circuits for research applications in-vitro and in-vivo and by implementing complete instruments (HW/SW) for neuroscience and electrophysiology.
The electrophysiological capabilities enabled by our CMOS devices are assessed and applied to different experimental studies aimed at investigating networks and brain circuits with thousands of simultaneously recorded neurons. Additionally, networks and circuits are investigated at multiple functional and structural scales, for instance by combining optical microscopy and neuroelectronic techniques.
Expertise in nanostructuring, photonics and nanomaterials available at IIT are converged with the strong competences in neuroengineering and microstructuring of the laboratory. The aim is to develop novel methods for neuroelectronic probes and lab-on-chip devices that can find applications for research, clinical devices and for the development of bio-assays.
Determining how the cellular and synaptic properties of a neural assembly give rise to the emergent dynamics; in networks and brain circuits is the major subject of this research. This is addressed through computational models that are developed based on high-resolution experimental data and by means of tailored data analysis algorithms to analyze and assess the functional properties of both real and computational networks. Additionally, we are developing computational solutions for managing and analyzing very large datasets of electrophysiological and multimodal (e.g. optical, electrical) experimental data.
- FET-Proactive, FP7-ICT-2011-9.11 (NBIS) – Coordinated by IIT. Retina-inspired ENcoding for advanced VISION tasks (RENVISION), Persons in charge for IIT: V. Murino (coordinator), L. Berdondini, A. Diaspro. IIT Contribution: €1.152.000. Project start/end: 2013/2016.
- NIH Brain Initiative, U01NS094190-01 – Coordinated by Harvard University, USA. Persons in charge for IIT: L. Berdondini and M. De Vittorio. IIT Contribution: USD 446.148. Project start/end: 2015/2018.
- H2020-E-Rare-2 JTC 2014 – Coordinated by University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland. Immunotherapy of familial prion diseases (PrionImmunity), Person in charge for IIT: L. Berdondini. Project start: 2015/2018.
- Fondazione Cariplo (Starting Grants) – Coordinated by Università di Padova, Italy. Catalytic Nano-Amyloids Entangled by Metallo-Cores To Disarm Oxidative Stress (AMYCORES), Persons in charge for IIT: L. Berdondini. Project start/end: 2015/2018.
- FET‐OPEN, FP7-ICT-2011-C (Open-FET) – Coordinated by IIT. Towards new Brain-Machine Interfaces: state-dependent information coding (SI-CODE), Persons in charge for IIT: S. Panzeri (coordinator), L. Berdondini, A. Vato. IIT Contribution: €1.101.574. Project start/end: 2012/2015.
- Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITN), FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN - Coordinated by University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Neuroelectronics and nanotechnology: towards a Multidisciplinary Approach for the Science and Engineering of Neuronal Networks (NAMASEN), Person in charge for IIT: L. Berdondini. IIT Contribution €240.518. Project start/end: 2011/2015.
- Italian Ministry of Science and Technology (MEA-MOST), Cooperazione scientifica e tecnologica Italia-Israele 2011.
- Harvard University (B. Sabatini and J. Assad), implantable CMOS-probes
- University of Zürich (A. Aguzzi), neurodegenerative diseases
- Newcastle University (E. Sernagor), retina electrophysiology on CMOS-MEAs
- University of Edinburgh (M. Henning), data analysis and neurocomputation
- Università dell’Aquila (S. Bisti and S. Di Marco), retina electrophysiology, diagnostics and therapeutics
- Università di Cagliari (M. Barbaro and P. Meloni), hardware architectures for real-time processing
- IIT-NAST (F. De Angelis), plasmonic nanoantennas for neuroscience
- IIT- UniTN (S. Panzeri), information processing in neuronal circuits
- 3Brain GmbH, (Switzerland), CMOS based instrumentation for research
- Plexon Inc. (USA)
3Brain GmbH, http://www.3brain.com/home