home | sitemap | terms | ubc | contact us    














University of Calgary (BSc)
University of Calgary (MSc)
University of Otago (PhD)

Research Description (copied from former web page):

Dr. Christie's laboratory examines the biological processes underlying learning and memory in the mammalian brain.

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.

Disturbances in 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.

Synaptic 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 n

Selected Publications

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): 13427-13431.

Christie, B.R., 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.

Christie, B.R., 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.



 Copyright 2002 - All Rights Reserved - Graduate Program in Neuroscience