Network Oscillations in Primary Cortical Spheroids

Speaker Name: 
Jessica Sevetson
Speaker Title: 
Ph.D. Candidate
Speaker Organization: 
Brown University
Start Time: 
Monday, February 24, 2020 - 11:00am
End Time: 
Monday, February 24, 2020 - 12:00pm
Biomed 200


The number of researchers turning to three-dimensional in vitro models of the brain is rising, and investigators are using these models to ask a broad range of questions. As the brain is an intricate and dynamic structure, our ability to detect neural activity of in vitro models, and to recognize perturbations in that activity, is imperative. Primary cortical aggregates, or ‘spheroids’, are an excellent model to investigate the formation of neural networks. These cultures include diverse neural and glial cell types, and their size, composition, and cellular density are highly reproducible. Yet, to what extent these cells  spontaneously form active networks remains relatively unknown.

In this lecture, I discuss the use of calcium imaging to observe and analyze the activity of neural networks in vitro. In brief, primary cortical spheroids derived from both rats and mice exhibit reproducible, synaptically driven neural oscillations that increase in complexity over time. These findings  serve to improve our understanding of systems-level neural development in vitro, and to provide a new framework for investigating network activity in three-dimensional cultures.


Jess Sevetson is a PhD candidate at Brown University, where she has been studying under Diane Hoffman-Kim since 2015. She received a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Lehigh University in 2013, then worked as a technician for Professor Julie Haas from 2013 to 2015. Her research interests include in vitro models of mesoscopic neural systems, as well as the interactions between cell types during network formation and maintenance, and circuit changes in neurodevelopmental disorders. She has written science communication articles for Technology Networks and Scientific American, spoken at Nerd Nite Providence and Brown’s Research Matters, and was a finalist in the first all-Ivy Three Minute Thesis competition. Finally, she has served as the graduate representative within the Neuroscience department at Brown, and is currently an Editor-in-Chief for Brown University’s undergraduate science blog, Ursa Sapiens. Outside of the lab, she can be found car camping, refinishing furniture, and reading (mostly poetry and sci-fi).

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