Where Ideas Grow

Neuroengineering and Computational Neuroscience

ABOUT

Neurons are Nature’s solution to fast and reliable information processing, and many neuroscience challenges can only be tackled by acknowledging this fact.

We are a multidisciplinary group focused on neuronal computation and neuronal circuits’ dynamics: the lab makes extensive use of electrophysiology methods, such as microelectrode arrays, functional imaging and microfluidics, to improve our understanding on how neurons encode, transmit, store and process information.

Together with expertise in machine learning and in silico neuroscience tools (e.g. modeling, advanced signal/image analysis and computer simulations), we also use and develop neuroengineering approaches (e.g. neuro-electronic interfaces) that help us reveal, and repair, neural function.

 

RESEARCH

Both neurobiology fundamental research and neuroengineering technological innovation are carried out in our group.

We use well-controlled in vitro/ex vivo systems, where with can monitor and modulate neural activity with high spatiotemporal resolution, to uncover and analyze the properties of neuronal circuits in either physiological or altered conditions. With our methodologies, we have been able to develop and validate novel microelectrodes technologies and show, for example, that bidirectional signal conduction is present in axons in neuronal cultures. We also use our combination of microelectrode arrays and microfluidics to characterize electrical communication between neuronal populations, and the effect of neuronal activity in axonal transport dynamics.

Through strong connections to the clinic, we also work with electrophysiology recordings from human patients implanted with microelectrode arrays. Research is carried out in the context of epilepsy (e.g. detection of epileptogenic regions), as well as with deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson’s disease (e.g. developing methods towards adaptive neuromodulation).

A long-term goal of the NCN group is the development of microelectrodes systems and other neurotechnologies for therapeutic strategies based on the control and modulation of neural electrophysiology (closed-loop neuromodulation).

Dissociated E´15 rat cortical neurons, immunolabelled for BIII-tubulin (green), cultured for 3 days (DIV 3) on a custom-made 12-islets gold mushrooms microelectrodes chip.

Team

Selected Publications

Mateus J.C., Lopes C.D.F., Cerquido M., Leitão L., Leitão D., Cardoso S., Ventura J., Aguiar P.,
Improved in vitro electrophysiology using 3D-structured microelectrode arrays with a micro-mushrooms islets architecture capable of promoting topotaxis. Journal of Neural Engineering16(3):, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 7] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/ab0b86 SCOPUS: 85065810756

Teixeira H., Dias C., Aguiar P., Ventura J.,
Gold-Mushroom Microelectrode Arrays and the Quest for Intracellular-Like Recordings: Perspectives and Outlooks. Advanced Materials Technologies6(2):, 2021. [Journal: Review] [CI: 6] [IF: 8,9]
DOI: 10.1002/admt.202000770 SCOPUS: 85097519751

Heiney K., Mateus J.C., Lopes C.D.F., Neto E., Lamghari M., Aguiar P.,
µSpikeHunter: An advanced computational tool for the analysis of neuronal communication and action potential propagation in microfluidic platforms. Scientific Reports9(1):, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 3] [IF: 4]
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42148-3 SCOPUS: 85064068131

Aresta G., Araújo T., Kwok S., Chennamsetty S.S., Safwan M., Alex V., Marami B., Prastawa M., Chan M., Donovan M., Fernandez G., Zeineh J., Kohl M., Walz C., Ludwig F., Braunewell S., Baust M., Vu Q.D., To M.N.N., Kim E., Kwak J.T., Galal S., Sanchez-Freire V., Brancati N., Frucci M., Riccio D., Wang Y., Sun L., Ma K., Fang J., Kone I., Boulmane L., Campilho A., Eloy C., Polónia A., Aguiar P.,
BACH: Grand challenge on breast cancer histology images. Medical Image Analysis56:122-139, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 197] [IF: 11,1]
DOI: 10.1016/j.media.2019.05.010 SCOPUS: 85067343074

Cerquido M., Proenca M.P., Dias C., Leitao D.C., Cardoso S., Freitas P.P., Aguiar P., Ventura J.,
Tailoring the cap's morphology of electrodeposited gold micro-mushrooms. Applied Surface Science445:512-518, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 6] [IF: 5,2]
DOI: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2018.03.158 SCOPUS: 85044588454

Gerós A., Magalhães A., Aguiar P.,
Improved 3D tracking and automated classification of rodents’ behavioral activity using depth-sensing cameras. Behavior Research Methods52(5):2156-2167, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 5] [IF: 6,2]
DOI: 10.3758/s13428-020-01381-9 SCOPUS: 85083094268

Mestre A.L.G., Cerquido M., Inácio P.M.C., Asgarifar S., Lourenço A.S., Cristiano M.L.S., Aguiar P., Medeiros M.C.R., Araújo I.M., Ventura J., Gomes H.L.,
Ultrasensitive gold micro-structured electrodes enabling the detection of extra-cellular long-lasting potentials in astrocytes populations. Scientific Reports7(1):, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 11] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-14697-y SCOPUS: 85032462728

Castro D., Nunes V., Lima J.T., Ferreira J.G., Aguiar P.,
Trackosome: a computational toolbox to study the spatiotemporal dynamics of centrosomes, nuclear envelope and cellular membrane. Journal of Cell Science133(24):, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 5,3]
DOI: 10.1242/jcs.252254 SCOPUS: 85099992997

Costa A.R., Sousa S.C., Pinto-Costa R., Mateus J.C., Lopes C.D.F., Costa A.C., Rosa D., Machado D., Pajuelo L., Wang X., Zhou F.Q., Pereira A.J., Sampaio P., Rubinstein B.Y., Pinto I.M., Lampe M., Aguiar P., Sousa M.M.,
The membrane periodic skeleton is an actomyosin network that regulates axonal diameter and conduction. eLife9:, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 22] [IF: 8,1]
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.55471 SCOPUS: 85082635132

Neto E., Leitão L., Sousa D.M., Alves C.J., Alencastre I.S., Aguiar P., Lamghari M.,
Compartmentalized microfluidic platforms: The unrivaled breakthrough of in vitro tools for neurobiological research. Journal of Neuroscience36(46):11573-11584, 2016. [Journal: Article] [CI: 64] [IF: 6]
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1748-16.2016 SCOPUS: 84996552043

Ongoing Projects

Storing and recalling biological Memories with Neuromorphic Electronics
Reference: PTDC/NAN-MAT/4093/2021
Proponent: FCUP - Faculdade Ciências do Porto
Sponsor: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
From 01-JAN-22 to 31-DEC-24