DR. BRIAN R. CHRISTIE
University of Calgary (BSc)
University of Calgary (MSc)
University of Otago (PhD)
Research Description (copied from former web page):
laboratory examines the biological processes
underlying learning and memory in the mammalian
A key component
of the circuitry in the medial temporal region is
the hippocampal formation, a telencephalic
structure composed of two interlocking gyri, the
hippocampus proper and the dentate gyrus. The
hippocampus is unique in that it appears to mediate
information flow between a variety of different
sensory inputs and the cortex, and one of it's
subunits, the dentate gyrus, continually generates
new neurons, even in the adult brain.
hippocampal functioning have been linked to a
number of pathological conditions whose etiology
includes a dementia-like component (i.e.
Alzheimer's type dementias, epileptogenic
pathologies, polyglutamine pathogenesis, and
schizophrenia). A common link between these
etiologies is some form of aberrant morphological
change that alters hippocampal neuronal circuitry.
To date the functional changes incurred following
neuronal reorganization are poorly understood and
to address this issue we examine both the synaptic
physiology of the hippocampal formation and the
physiology of neurogenesis (the birth of new
neurons) in the adult brain.
transmission is one of the ways that neurons
communicate with one another, and brief bursts of
electrical activity in the brain are believed to
alter the strengths of the contacts between
neurons, possibly providing a physiological
mechanism for information to be processed and
stored. We look at how "newly formed" neurons
establish and integrate themselves into the
existing neural architecture of the adult brain,
and how these cells can affect the synaptic
physiology of existing tissue. Recently we have
discovered that voluntary exercise can increase
neurogenesis, learning and synaptic plasticity in
the adult brain (1999, PNAS 96:13427-13431). This
research has tremendous potential for developing
strategies to alleviate pathological brain
deterioration, and also provides insight into basic
Christie, B. R.,
Franks, K., Seamans, J., and Sejnowski, T.J.
Synaptic plasticity in morphologically identified
CA1 stratum radiatum interneurons and projection
cells. Hippocampus 10:673-683.(2000).
van Praag H.,
Christie B.R., Sejnowski T.J., Gage F.H. (1999).
Running enhances neurogenesis, learning, and
long-term potentiation in mice. Proceedings of the
National Academy of Science, U S A. 96(23):
Magee, J.C., and Johnston, D. (1996). The role of
dendritic action potentials and calcium influx in
the induction of homosynaptic long-term depression
in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Learning and
Memory. 3: 160-169.
Eliot, L.S., Ito, K., Miyakawa, H., and Johnston,
D. (1995). Subcellular differences in the
contribution of voltage-gated calcium channels to
spike induced calcium influx. Journal of
Neurophysiology. 73(6): 2553-2558.