Scripps Florida - The Scripps Research Institute Department of Neuroscience

Department of Neuroscience


James Schummers, Ph.D.

James Schummers

Group Leader
Max Planck Florida Institute

Adjunct Assistant Professor- Scripps Florida, Department of Neuroscience

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003

Max Planck Florida Institute
One Max Planck Way
Jupiter, Florida 33458
Telephone: 561-972-9110


Research Interests

My research group studies the functional organization of the cortex – the convoluted outer "shell" of the brain, which is responsible for many brain functions, including sensory perception, motor control and higher cognitive functions. The cortex is the brain structure that is most expanded in humans, and is responsible for many of the most complex human behaviors, including language and cognition.

By studying an experimentally tractable cortical function – visual processing – we hope to uncover the general principles by which the cortex functions. A major research focus will be to determine the involvement of astrocytes, the major non-neuronal cell group in the brain, in cortical function. We plan to test the hypothesis that astrocytes are intimately involved in information processing in the cortex. The group uses cutting-edge high-resolution two-photon imaging, electrophysiological recording, as well as methods to label specific cell types, to study cellular and sub-cellular activity in the intact brain.

The high-resolution functional map of cortical circuits that will emerge from this research program will lay the foundation for a number of medical advances. Firstly, gaining a basic understanding of visual cortex is a pre-requisite for interventions, such as visual prostheses, for those suffering from retinal blindness. Secondly, elucidating the function of normal cortical circuits will enhance diagnostic analysis and suggest potential treatment strategies for disorders with a cortical basis, ranging broadly from epilepsy to Alzheimer's to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders.

Selected Publications

Mao R, Schummers J, Knoblich U, Lacey CJ, Van Wart A, Cobos I, Kim C, Huguenard JR, Rubenstein JL, Sur M. Influence of a Subtype of Inhibitory Interneuron on Stimulus-Specific Responses in Visual Cortex. Cereb Cortex epub: Jun 24 (2011)

Malik WQ, Schummers J, Sur M and Brown EN. Denoising two-photon calcium imaging data PLoS ONE  6 (6) e20490. (2011)

Runyan CA, Schummers J, Van Wart A, Kuhlman SJ, Wilson NR, Huang ZJ, Sur M. Response features of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons suggest precise roles for subtypes of inhibition in visual cortex.  Neuron Sep 9 67 (5) 847-57. (2010)

Stimberg M, Wimmer K, Martin R, Schwabe L, Marino J, Schummers J, Lyon DC, Sur M and  Obermayer KThe OperatingRegime of Local Computations in Primary Visual Cortex. Cerebral Cortex Sep 19 (9) 2166-80. (2009)

Schummers J,Yu H, Sur M. Tuned responses of astrocytes and their influence on hemodynamic signals in the visual cortex. Science. 320 1638-43. (2008)

Schummers J, Cronin B, Wimmer K, Stimberg M, Martin R, Obermayer K, Koerding K and Sur M. Dynamics of orientation tuning in cat V1 neurons depend on location within layers and orientation maps. Frontiers in Neuroscience Nov 1 (1) 145-59. (2007)

Wang KH, Majewska A, Schummers J , Farley B, Hu C, Sur M, Tonegawa S. In vivo two-photon imaging reveals a role of arc in enhancing orientation specificity in visual cortex. Cell 126 389-402. (2006)

Mariño J, Schummers J, Lyon DC, Schwabe L, Beck O, Wiesing P, Obermayer K, Sur M. Invariant computations in local cortical networks with balanced excitation and inhibition. Nat Neurosci 8 194-201. (2005)

Schummers J, Mariño J, Sur M. Synaptic integration by V1 neurons depends on location within the orientation map. Neuron 36 969-978. (2002)