Cultured neural networks represent a useful model in between single neurons and brain tissue for studying neural development, coding, pathology and regeneration. Neurons functionally reshape their interconnectivity not only in response to incoming activity from other cells, but also to external stimuli and changes of environmental conditions (Muotri and Gage. 2006). Thus, studying cell physiology, cell motility and interconnectivity by interacting with cells or their organelles and controlling the intercellular organization and enviroment.
Complementary optical technologies such as optical tweezers (OTs) and laser microdissectors (LMDs) are among the most versatile tools for performing such manipulation experiments with high spatio-temporal resolution under sterile conditions.
In contrast to most commercial OTs and LMDs, which are installed on inverted microscopes, the setup is mounted on an upright microscope. Nevertheless, both inverted and non-inverted optical pathways are optically accessible. This configuration allows the placing of specimen on transparent and non-transparent substrates alike without affecting the overall performance of the optical setup. The system is configured to work in combination with experimental techniques such as multichannel microelectrode array recording, patch clamp electrophysiology, and fluorescence imaging.