Emergence of small-world anatomical networks in self-organizing clustered neuronal cultures

Daniel De Santos-Sierra, Irene Sendiña-Nadal, Inmaculada Leyva, Juan A. Almendral, Sarit Anava, Amir Ayali, David Papo, Stefano Boccaletti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In vitro primary cultures of dissociated invertebrate neurons from locust ganglia are used to experimentally investigate the morphological evolution of assemblies of living neurons, as they self-organize from collections of separated cells into elaborated, clustered, networks. At all the different stages of the culture's development, identification of neurons' and neurites' location by means of a dedicated software allows to ultimately extract an adjacency matrix from each image of the culture. In turn, a systematic statistical analysis of a group of topological observables grants us the possibility of quantifying and tracking the progression of the main network's characteristics during the self-organization process of the culture. Our results point to the existence of a particular state corresponding to a small-world network configuration, in which several relevant graph's micro- and meso-scale properties emerge. Finally, we identify the main physical processes ruling the culture's morphological transformations, and embed them into a simplified growth model qualitatively reproducing the overall set of experimental observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere85828
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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