Central nervous tissue: an excitable medium. A study using the retinal spreading depression as a tool

W. Hanke, V. M. F. de Lima
2008 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences  
According to its physicochemical properties, neuronal tissue, including the central nervous system (CNS) and thus the human brain, is an excitable medium, which consequently exhibits, among other things, self-organization, pattern formation and propagating waves. Furthermore, such systems can be controlled by weak external forces. The spreading depression (SD), a propagating wave of excitation-depression, is such an event, which is additionally linked to a variety of medically important
more » ... y important situations, classical migraine being just one example. Especially in retinal tissue, a true part of the CNS, the SD can be observed very easily with the naked eye and by video imaging techniques due to its big intrinsic optical signal. We have investigated the retinal SD and its control by external physical parameters such as gravity and temperature. Beyond this, especially due to its medical relevance, the control of CNS excitability by pharmacological tools is of specific interest, and we have studied this question in detail using the retinal SD as an experimental tool to collect information about the control of CNS tissue excitability.
doi:10.1098/rsta.2007.2094 pmid:17673413 fatcat:gmgpcw5c2rak5bmeycswrph2we