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Peter Grünberg Institute / Institute of Complex Systems

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On-Chip Neuroscience

In this research line we construct and analyse neural networks to unravel principals of information processing. Our approach is to reduce the network complexity and control the network architecture and finally the signal propagation in networks. This includes micro- and nanopatterning techniques to construct geometrically defined networks and electrophysiological measurements to analyse them. One mayor goal is to explore the cellular and molecular mechanism of neuronal polarity and implement key signals into strategies for directing axo- and synaptogenesis. 

Protein patterning

Protein patterning

The precise control of network architecture can be achieved by presenting a surface composed of adhesive and nonadhesive areas, such that cells are forced to adhere to and connect along the permissive regions. Microcontact printing is an universal method for patterning biomolecules which can be applied like ink to the surface of elastomeric stamp and transferred to a variety of substrates. Cell adhesion proteins, such as the proteins of the extracellular matrix, and polycationic polymers are used for printing biomolecules as they can direct cellular adhesion and neuron growth.

Rat cortical networks

Analysing neural network

Neural networks are analysed on electrophysiological and gene expression level. Patch-clamp recording is used to investigate information processing of neural networks on single cell level. For long time measurements neurons are recorded non-invasive and extracellularly using micro-electron devices. Single cell PCR and DNA arrays are the methods of interests to unravel the gene expression pattern during network formation.

Guided neurons by microgradient

Control of Neuronal Polarity

We are interested to find and optimize methods for controlling neuronal polarity, axogenesis and synaptogenesis. Such a system will be useful for investigations on network formation and the impact of different connectivity patterns on network activity and plasticity. We focus on effects of protein gradients on neuronal polarity and axon guidance. Discrete gradients of substrate-bound cues are produced by microcontact printing and tested on axon guidance. Cellular and molecular mechanisms behind gradient cues mediated neuronal polarity will be further analysed.  

Additional Information


Dr. Simone Meffert

Tel.:  +49-2461-61-2575


Fricke R, Zentis P, Rajappa L, Hofmann B, Banzet M, Offenhäusser A, Meffert S., Axon guidance of rat cortical neurons by microcontact printed gradients. Biomaterials 32 (2011) , 213-222.DOI:10.1016/j


Hofmann B, Maybeck V, Eick St, Meffert S, Ingebrandt S, Wood Ph, Bamberg E, Offenhäusser A., Light induced stimulation and delay of cardiac activity, Lab Chip, 10 (2010), 2588-2596 / DOI: 10.1039/C003091K


A. Offenhäusser, S. Böcker-Meffert, T. Decker, R. Helpenstein, P. Gasteier, J. Groll, M. Möller, A. Reska, S. Schäfer, P. Schulte, A. Vogt, Microcontact Printing of Proteins for Neuronal Cell Guidance, Soft Matter 2007, 3, 290-298.