I began researching in the Neural Engineering lab this past summer, from May to August. I knew going into my sophomore year that I wanted to get involved in research on campus, especially hearing from friends who were involved or who had been involved about how much of a learning experience it is. After reaching out to a lot of different labs and narrowing down my interests, I chose to do research in this lab, and pursue the topic of Random Electrical Stimulation in Cortical Networks on Multielectrode Arrays for my OSCAR URSP research.
This topic interested me for a couple of reasons, because as a university student, one rarely gets the chance to use the knowledge and fundamentals learned in class in the real world to truly understand the scope of information. After working in the lab over the summer, learning the procedures, techniques and locations of all of the lab equipment, I was able to begin determining what topic I was interested in researching. Research also provides unparalleled levels of curiosity and questioning, which I feel is necessary regardless of discipline or major.
My research involves taking recordings of the activity of cortical cell cultures from mice embryos and looking at patterns these cultures exhibit when electrical stimulation is added. The recordings involve a system of devices, including a Multi Channel Systems temperature controller, power supply system, baseplate, and stimulation generator alongside special software that transmits information about the neuronal cell culture and any electrical stimulation. This software produces real-time results that show different locations on a multielectrode array where a neuron is producing an action potential, or the means of communication for the cells in our brain.
Every week provides new discoveries, and this week I did a lot of data processing for data I had collected a few months ago. This data revealed insightful information about how electrical stimulation can increase the number of action potentials over time and helped me refine my procedure for conducting the recordings when I realized there were some mistakes or missing data.