Scripps Florida - The Scripps Research Institute Department of Neuroscience

Department of Neuroscience


Jason Christie, Ph.D.

Jason Christie

Group Leader
Max Planck Florida Institute

Adjunct Assistant Professor- Scripps Florida, Department of Neuroscience

Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University (Vollum Institute), 2004

Max Planck Florida Institute
One Max Planck Way
Jupiter, Florida 33458
Telephone: 561-972-9410


Research Interests

My research focuses on the fundamental aspects of neurotransmission at synapses, the point-to-point connections between brain cells. In particular, my research group studies how the strength of synaptic transmission between neurons becomes stronger or weaker due to preceding neuronal activity. The remarkable ability of synapses to alter their response properties is a defining feature of neuronal function. This plasticity, or malleability, of synaptically connected neurons affects behavior and allows the brain to respond, adapt and learn from its experiences. Long-term alterations in the transmission properties of synapses provide a basis for learning and memory whereas short-term alterations are necessary to rapidly organize information in brain circuits. Building from a basic understanding of plasticity at single synapses, I would ultimately like to understand how changes in synaptic strength are integrated within small populations of connected neurons (microcircuits) to generate a physiologically relevant computation.

To address these questions, it is necessary to directly record the activity of synapses in brain tissue. I utilize patch-clamp electrophysiology to study electrical responses in neurons generated from the opening of neurotransmitter-gated ion channels located at a synapse. Recordings are made from acute brain slice preparations, including the cerebellum, hippocampus, cortex, and olfactory bulb. In conjunction with electrophysiological measurements, I also use two-photon laser scanning microscopy to directly view fluorescently labeled cells as well as image the passage of ions, such as calcium, through both pre- and postsynaptic channels. In this way, single synapses can be studied in isolation or as an ensemble of all active synapses in a single cell.

Prior to my appointment at the Max Planck Florida Institute, I conducted research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Vollum Institute at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, where I completed my doctoral and post-doctoral work. While at the Vollum Institute, I was awarded a National Research Service Award. I currently serve as an ad hoc editor for the Journal of Neurophysiology and the Journal of Neuroscience and am also a member of the Society for Neuroscience.

Selected Publications

Christie, J.M. and Westbrook, G.L. (2003). Regulation of backpropagating action potentials in mitral cell lateral dendrites by A-type potassium currents. J. Neurophysiol. 89, 2466-2472.

Christie, J.M., Bark, C., Hormuzdi, S.G., Helbig, I., Monyer, H., and Westbrook, G.L. (2005). Connexin36-mediated spike synchrony in olfactory bulb glomeruli. Neuron. 46, 761-772.

Christie, J.M. and Westbrook, G.L. (2006). Lateral excitation within the olfactory bulb. J. Neurosci. 26, 2269-2277.

Christie, J.M. and Jahr, C.E. (2006). Multivesicular release at Schaffer Collateral-CA1 hippocampal synapses. J. Neurosci. 26, 210-216.

Christie, J.M. and Jahr, C.E. (2008). Dendritic NMDA receptors activate axonal calcium channels. Neuron. 60, 298-307.

Christie, J.M. and Jahr, C.E. (2009). Selective expression of ligand-gated ion channels in L5 pyramidal cell axons. J Neurosci. 29, 11441-11450.