Our goal in Cognomics (a UT spearhead project financed by the university board, 1.8 MEuro, mediated by BMTI-MIRA/MESA+, main partners BSS (EWI), BIOS (EWI), BME (CTW)) is to understand dynamic features of cognitive processes, more specifically:

1.How can reactions of a (simple) neural network be modulated?

2.How can new behavior be learned?


The approach combines current - and to be improved - in vitro techniques for adhering, growing and training nerve cells, with in vivo measurements regarding motor reflexes, pain and learning behaviour.

Besides the design and fabrication of silicon-glass-PDMS two- chamber culturing devices, the study applied learning theories in vitro in order to understand the basic changes on this level. In vitro studies were carried out using single chamber MEAs and (recently) micro-Channel Electrode Array’s: glass chips which contain a concatenation of chambers, connected by channels, with embedded electrodes. With such arrays, specific neuronal circuits can be constructed, consisting of cultured neuronal populations in the chambers and outgrowth of their protrusions in the channels.

Parallel studies on the behaviour of such neuronal circuits were started, by studying the reflexive behaviour (sensory inputs and motoric output) in man. Moreover the pain system was traced in humans in reaction to nocious electrical stimuli to the hand/fore arm.

Results can be applied in studies on motor behavior-, pain- and learning diseases and also in schizophrenia, autism and dementia. It will also be highly relevant for study and applications of Man-Machine Interactions.


Besides journal and conference papers (see EEMCS),

PhD theses of

Jan Stegenga (2009, live learning neuronal neworks) ,

Esther vander Heide (2009, nociceptive human system)

Remy Wiertz (2010, regulation of cellular adhesion)

Research themes

From Cellular Mechanisms to Neural Circuit Behaviour

Principal Investigator tracks

Wim L.C. Rutten - Neurotechnology and Cellular Engineering



People involved

Wim Rutten

Enrico Marani

Joost le Feber

Jan Stegenga

Remy Wiertz

Esther van der Heide

Jan Buitenweg

Eddy de Weerd

Wouter Olthuis

Jeroen Beekwilder

Clavijo Cedeno

Marcel Weusthof

Gabriel Sengo

Albert van der Berg

Frans vander Helm

Herman vander Kooij

Leonard van Schelven