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Generation of Locomotor-Like Activity in the Isolated Rat Spinal Cord Using Intraspinal Electrical Microstimulation Driven by a Digital Neuromorphic CPG

Abstract : Neural prostheses based on electrical microstimulation offer promising perspectives to restore functions following lesions of the central nervous system (CNS). They require the identification of appropriate stimulation sites and the coordination of their activation to achieve the restoration of functional activity. On the long term, a challenging perspective is to control microstimulation by artificial neural networks hybridized to the living tissue. Regarding the use of this strategy to restore locomotor activity in the spinal cord, to date, there has been no proof of principle of such hybrid approach driving intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS). Here, we address a first step toward this goal in the neonatal rat spinal cord isolated ex vivo, which can display locomotor-like activity while offering an easy access to intraspinal circuitry. Microelectrode arrays were inserted in the lumbar region to determine appropriate stimulation sites to elicit elementary bursting patterns on bilateral L2/L5 ventral roots. Two intraspinal sites were identified at L1 level, one on each side of the spinal cord laterally from the midline and approximately at a median position dorso-ventrally. An artificial CPG implemented on digital integrated circuit (FPGA) was built to generate alternating activity and was hybridized to the living spinal cord to drive electrical microstimulation on these two identified sites. Using this strategy, sustained left-right and flexor-extensor alternating activity on bilateral L2/L5 ventral roots could be generated in either whole or thoracically transected spinal cords. These results are a first step toward hybrid artificial/biological solutions based on electrical microstimulation for the restoration of lost function in the injured CNS.
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Sébastien Joucla, Matthieu Ambroise, Timothée Levi, Thierry Lafon, Philippe Chauvet, et al.. Generation of Locomotor-Like Activity in the Isolated Rat Spinal Cord Using Intraspinal Electrical Microstimulation Driven by a Digital Neuromorphic CPG. Frontiers in Neuroscience, Frontiers, 2016, 1, pp.67 - 67. ⟨10.3389/fnins.2016.00067⟩. ⟨hal-01562686⟩

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