Local magnetic detection and stimulation of neuronal activity

Abstract : Information transmission in the brain occurs through ionic currents flowing inside the neuronal network. Understanding how the brain operates requires probing this electrical activity by measuring the associated electric or magnetic field. At the cellular scale, electrophysiology techniques are well mastered, but there is no tool to perform magnetophysiology. Mapping brain activity through the magnetic field generated by neuronal communication is done via magnetoencephalography (MEG). This technique is based on SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices) that operate at liquid Helium temperature. This parameter implies to avoid any contact with living tissue and a shielding system that increases the distance between the neurons and the sensors, limiting spatial resolution. This thesis work aims at providing a new tool to performmagnetic recordings at the neuronal scale. The sensors developed during this thesis are based on the Giant Magneto-Resistance (GMR) effect. Operating at room temperature, they can be miniaturize and shaped according to the experiment, while exhibiting a sensitivity that allows to measure amplitude of 10⁻⁹ T. Before targeting neurons, the use of GMR-based sensors for magnetic recordings of biological activity has been validated through invitro experiments on the mouse soleus muscle. This biological system has been chosen because of its simple organization, allowing for a realistic modelling, and for its robustness, in order to get reliable and replicable results. The perfect agreement between the measurements and the theoretical predictions represents a consistent validation of the GMR technology for biological applications. Then a specially adapted needle-shaped probe carrying micron-sized GMR sensors has been developed for in-vivo experiment in cat visual cortex. The very first magnetic signature of action potentials inside the neuropil has been measured, paving the way towards magnetophysiology.
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Vincent Trauchessec. Local magnetic detection and stimulation of neuronal activity. Biological Physics [physics.bio-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017SACLS301⟩. ⟨tel-01629395⟩

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