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3D Printing Neuron Equivalent Circuits: An Undergraduate Laboratory Exercise

  • Autori: Giuseppe Giglia, Kevin Crisp,Giulio Musotto, Pierangelo Sardo, Giuseppe Ferraro
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2019
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


The electrical equivalent circuit for a neuron is composed of common electrical components in a configuration that replicates the passive electrical properties and behaviors of the neural membrane. It is a powerful tool used to derive such fundamental neurophysiological equations as the Hodgkin-Huxley equations, and it is also the basis for well-known exercises that help students to model the passive (Ohmic) properties of the neuronal membrane. Unfortunately, as these exercises require basic knowledge of electronics, they are generally not physically conducted in biomedical courses, but remain merely conceptual exercises in a book or simulations on a computer. In such manifestations, they lack the “hands-on” appeal for students and teachers afforded by laboratory experimentations. Here, we propose a new approach to these experiments in which a desktop 3D printer and conductive paint are used to build the circuit and the popular programmable microcontroller the Arduino UNO is used as a graphical oscilloscope when connected to a standard computer. This set-up has the advantage to be very easy to build and less clumsy than a circuit in a prototyping board or connected with alligator clips, with the added benefit of being conveniently portable for classroom demonstrations. Most importantly, this method allows the monitoring of real-time changes in the current flowing through the circuit by means of a graphical display (by way of the Arduino) at a fraction of the cost of commercially available oscilloscopes.