NanoNeuro: Hacking neural circuits with nanopipettes and nanoparticles

9th November 2022

Timing : 1 pm EST

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The study of electronic properties of materials at the nanoscale has unveiled new physical laws and generated novel materials, such as nanoparticles, quantum dots, nanodiamonds, nanoelectrodes and nanoprobes. Independently, large-scale public and private neuroscience programs have been launched to develop new methods to measure and manipulate neural circuits in living animals and humans. I will discuss an upcoming field, NanoNeuro, defined as the intersection of Nanoscience and Neuroscience, that aims to develop nanoscale methods to record and stimulate neuronal activity. Specifically, I will focus on the use of plasmonic nanoparticles as optical actuators of neuronal activity (1) and on flexible quartz nanopipettes to record the electrical properties of neuronal subcompartments in vitro (2) and neurons (3) in vivo. Because of their unique physical properties, nanomaterials have many intrinsic advantages as biosensors and actuators and may be applicable to humans without the need of genetic modifications. Thus, nanoscience could make major methodological contributions to the future of neuroscience and, more generally, to biomedical sciences (4) .

Supported by the NEI (R01EY011787), NSF (2203119) and Vannevar Bush Faculty Award (ONR N000142012828).

1. de Boer W, Hirtz JJ, Capretti A, Gregorkiewicz T, Izquierdo-Serra M, Han S, Dupre C, Shymkiv Y, Yuste R. Neuronal photoactivation through second-harmonic near-infrared absorption by gold nanoparticles. Light Sci Appl. 2018;7:100. doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0103-0. PubMed PMID: 30534369; PMCID: PMC6279767.
2. Jayant K, Hirtz JJ, Plante IJ, Tsai DM, De Boer WD, Semonche A, Peterka DS, Owen JS, Sahin O, Shepard KL, Yuste R. Targeted intracellular voltage recordings from dendritic spines using quantum- dot-coated nanopipettes. Nat Nanotechnol. 2017;12(4):335-42. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.268. PubMed PMID: 27941898.
3. Jayant K, Wenzel M, Bando Y, Hamm JP, Mandriota N, Rabinowitz JH, Plante IJ, Owen JS, Sahin O, Shepard KL, Yuste R. Flexible Nanopipettes for Minimally Invasive Intracellular Electrophysiology In Vivo. Cell Rep. 2019;26(1):266-78 e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.12.019. PubMed PMID: 30605681.
4. Garcia-Etxarri A, Yuste R. Time for NanoNeuro. Nature Methods. 2021;18(11):1287-93. doi: 10.1038/s41592-021-01270-9. PubMed PMID: WOS:000708359800001.

Rafael Yuste
Professor of Biology
Columbia University, New York, USA

Rafael Yuste, M.D., Ph.D, is a neuroscientist that studies the cerebral cortex at Columbia University, where he is Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Neurotechnology Center. Yuste obtained his M.D. at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid. After working in Sydney Brenner's laboratory at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, UK, he was a Ph.D. student with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel’s laboratory at Rockefeller University in New York, and postdoctoral student of David Tank at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. He joined Columbia in 1996 and is currently director of its Neurotechnology Center and co-director of its Kavli Institute for Brain Circuits. Yuste has pioneered the development of imaging techniques, such as calcium imaging of neuronal circuits, two-photon imaging of spines and circuits, photostimulation using inorganic caged compounds, two-photon optogenetics and holographic microscopy. He led the researchers that proposed the US BRAIN Initiative, and coordinated the launch of the International BRAIN Initiative. He also led the “Morningside” group of 25 researchers and clinicians who proposed novel human rights (“Neurorights”) to protect citizens from neurotechnologies. He has obtained awards for his research from the Mayor of New York City, the Society for Neuroscience and the Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Tällberg/Eliasson Global Leadership Prize.