Brain-on-a-chips: engineered neuronal populations and microtransducer arrays

2D neuronal populations coupled to Micro-Electrode-Arrays (MEAs) constitute a well-established experimental in-vitro platform to study fundamental mechanisms of brain (dys)function. At the same time, there are obvious limitations in using homogeneous planar networks that hinder the widespread use of such in vitro models for targeting biomedical and clinical applications. Here we present engineered networks (both 2D and 3D) based on different cellular models that can be used for studying the dynamic behavior and interaction among neuronal populations. We introduce these models coupled to standard and novel micro-transducer arrays (i.e., large-scale high-density CMOS). Moreover, we present nanoparticles that can be used for non-invasive neuromodulation. Piezoelectric nanoparticles activated by ultra-sounds can elicit neural excitation, while gold nanorods, activated by near infra-red light can induce neural inhibition. All these tools could be integrated into a brain-on-a-chip platform for precision medicine applications.