Oscillatory activity in cortical networks is thought to provide the foundation for many high-level processes including working memory and attention. It has been shown that spatial information propagation delay and connectivity density can determine the innate properties of local network activity. The initial formation of neuronal networks in the central nervous system occurs due to the interaction of the genetic programming of the cells and the presentation of external molecular cues. The activity-driven refinement that occurs later, giving rise to the highly complex networks within the brain, are dependent on the initial anatomical formation and structural connectivity which occurs without external activity cues. We describe technologies used to (1) modulate the genetic programming of neurons and (2) precisely control temporal and spatial presentation of environmental cues in vitro. We are exploring the ability to define simple oscillatory networks using these experimental techniques.

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