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John A. White

John A. White

Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University
Adjunct Professor, Bioengineering
College of Fellows, Am. Inst. of Medical and Biological Engineering (2005-)
Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society (2006-)
B.S. Biomedical Engineering, Louisiana Tech University (1984)
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University (1990)


Neurophysiology, Computational Neuroscience, Design of Real-Time Instrumentation, Imaging of Neuronal Activity

Current Research

The laboratory has moved to Boston University and is not accepting students in Utah.

We use engineering approaches to understand how information is processed in the brain, with the goal of exploiting these findings to improve the human condition. Our specific methods include computational modeling of neuronal networks; the design and construction of customized instrumentation that interacts with human subjects and biological preparations in real time at high clock speeds; and electrophysiological and optical techniques for recording detailed information from single neurons and large neuronal networks.

Ongoing and future research questions in our laboratory include the following:

1. Why is coherent electrical activity of the cortex necessary for mental processes like learning and memory?
2. What factors control this coherent activity, and how can such knowledge be applied to help patients with memory disorders and epilepsy?
3. How can recent advances in computing technology be exploited to develop electronic devices that detect brain dysfunction in real time and react to restore normal function in neurological patients?
4. Can we take advantage of nonlinear optical techniques to improve methods of measuring and controlling neuronal activity in reduced preparations and the intact brain?
5. How do calcium and other second messengers interact to influence short-term and long-term plasticity in synapses and in neurons?
6. How do glial cells contribute to epilepsy, and how can that knowledge be used to generate new therapies?
7. How can the principles of brain function be adapted to build novel “smart” devices?

Selected Publications

Handy G, Taheri M, White JA, Borisyuk A, Mathematical investigation of IP3-dependent calcium dynamics in astrocytes. J Comput Neurosci 2017 Jun;42(3):257-273

Patel YA, George A, Dorval AD, White JA, Christini DJ, Butera RJ, Hard real-time closed-loop electrophysiology with the Real-Time eXperiment Interface (RTXI). PLoS Comput Biol 2017 May;13(5):e1005430

Melonakos ED, White JA, Fernandez FR, Gain Modulation of Cholinergic Neurons in the Medial Septum-Diagonal Band of Broca Through Hyperpolarization. Hippocampus 2016 Dec;26(12):1525-1541

Umpierre AD, Bennett IV, Nebeker LD, Newell TG, Tian BB, Thomson KE, White HS, White JA, Wilcox KS, Repeated low-dose kainate administration in C57BL/6J mice produces temporal lobe epilepsy pathology but infrequent spontaneous seizures. Exp Neurol 2016 May;279:116-126

Tikidji-Hamburyan RA, Martínez JJ, White JA, Canavier CC, Resonant Interneurons Can Increase Robustness of Gamma Oscillations. J Neurosci 2015 Nov 25;35(47):15682-95

Wilcox KS, Gee JM, Gibbons MB, Tvrdik P, White JA, Altered structure and function of astrocytes following status epilepticus. Epilepsy Behav 2015 Aug;49:17-9

Fernandez FR, Malerba P, White JA, Non-linear Membrane Properties in Entorhinal Cortical Stellate Cells Reduce Modulation of Input-Output Responses by Voltage Fluctuations. PLoS Comput Biol 2015 Apr;11(4):e1004188

Gee JM, Gibbons MB, Taheri M, Palumbos S, Morris SC, Smeal RM, Flynn KF, Economo MN, Cizek CG, Capecchi MR, Tvrdik P, Wilcox KS, White JA, Imaging activity in astrocytes and neurons with genetically encoded calcium indicators following in utero electroporation. Front Mol Neurosci 2015;8:10

Economo MN, Martínez JJ, White JA, Membrane potential-dependent integration of synaptic inputs in entorhinal stellate neurons. Hippocampus 2014 Dec;24(12):1493-505

Gee JM, Smith NA, Fernandez FR, Economo MN, Brunert D, Rothermel M, Morris SC, Talbot A, Palumbos S, Ichida JM, Shepherd JD, West PJ, Wachowiak M, Capecchi MR, Wilcox KS, White JA, Tvrdik P, Imaging activity in neurons and glia with a Polr2a-based and cre-dependent GCaMP5G-IRES-tdTomato reporter mouse. Neuron 2014 Sep 3;83(5):1058-72

Magnani C, Economo MN, White JA, Moore LE, Nonlinear properties of medial entorhinal cortex neurons reveal frequency selectivity during multi-sinusoidal stimulation. Front Cell Neurosci 2014;8:239

Fernandez FR, Malerba P, Bressloff PC, White JA, Entorhinal stellate cells show preferred spike phase-locking to theta inputs that is enhanced by correlations in synaptic activity. J Neurosci 2013 Apr 3;33(14):6027-40

Wachowiak M, Economo MN, Díaz-Quesada M, Brunert D, Wesson DW, White JA, Rothermel M, Optical dissection of odor information processing in vivo using GCaMPs expressed in specified cell types of the olfactory bulb. J Neurosci 2013 Mar 20;33(12):5285-300

Broicher T, Malerba P, Dorval AD, Borisyuk A, Fernandez FR, White JA, Spike phase locking in CA1 pyramidal neurons depends on background conductance and firing rate. J Neurosci 2012 Oct 10;32(41):14374-88

Kispersky TJ, Fernandez FR, Economo MN, White JA, Spike Resonance Properties in Hippocampal O-LM Cells Are Dependent on Refractory Dynamics. J Neurosci 2012 Mar 14;32(11):3637-51

Fernandez FR, Broicher T, Truong A, White JA, Membrane voltage fluctuations reduce spike frequency adaptation and preserve output gain in CA1 pyramidal neurons in a high-conductance state. J Neurosci 2011 Mar 9;31(10):3880-93

Smeal RM, Ermentrout GB, White JA, Phase-response curves and synchronized neural networks. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2010 Aug 12;365(1551):2407-22

Fernandez FR, White JA, Gain control in CA1 pyramidal cells using changes in somatic conductance. J Neurosci 2010 Jan 6;30(1):230-41

O'Gorman DE, White JA, Shera CA, Dynamical instability determines the effect of ongoing noise on neural firing. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 2009 Jun;10(2):251-67

White JA, Kispersky TJ, Fernandez FR, Mechanisms of coherent activity in hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2009;2009:4226-7

Keck T, White JA, Glycinergic inhibition in the hippocampus. Rev Neurosci 2009;20(1):13-22

Fernandez FR, White JA, Reduction of spike afterdepolarization by increased leak conductance alters interspike interval variability. J Neurosci 2009 Jan 28;29(4):973-86

Burton BG, Economo MN, Lee GJ, White JA, Development of theta rhythmicity in entorhinal stellate cells of the juvenile rat. J Neurophysiol 2008 Dec;100(6):3144-57

Idoux E, Eugène D, Chambaz A, Magnani C, White JA, Moore LE, Control of neuronal persistent activity by voltage-dependent dendritic properties. J Neurophysiol 2008 Sep;100(3):1278-86

Lillis KP, Eng A, White JA, Mertz J, Two-photon imaging of spatially extended neuronal network dynamics with high temporal resolution. J Neurosci Methods 2008 Jul 30;172(2):178-84

Keck T, Lillis KP, Zhou YD, White JA, Frequency-dependent glycinergic inhibition modulates plasticity in hippocampus. J Neurosci 2008 Jul 16;28(29):7359-69

Bettencourt JC, Lillis KP, Stupin LR, White JA, Effects of imperfect dynamic clamp: Computational and experimental results. J Neurosci Methods 2008 Apr 30;169(2):282-9

Fernandez FR, White JA, Artificial synaptic conductances reduce subthreshold oscillations and periodic firing in stellate cells of the entorhinal cortex. J Neurosci 2008 Apr 2;28(14):3790-803

Acker CD, White JA, Roles of IA and morphology in action potential propagation in CA1 pyramidal cell dendrites. J Comput Neurosci 2007 Oct;23(2):201-16

Lipton PA, White JA, Eichenbaum H, Disambiguation of overlapping experiences by neurons in the medial entorhinal cortex. J Neurosci 2007 May 23;27(21):5787-95

Verhagen JV, Wesson DW, Netoff TI, White JA, Wachowiak M, Sniffing controls an adaptive filter of sensory input to the olfactory bulb. Nat Neurosci 2007 May;10(5):631-9

Dasika VK, White JA, Colburn HS, Simple models show the general advantages of dendrites in coincidence detection. J Neurophysiol 2007 May;97(5):3449-59

Haas JS, Dorval AD 2nd, White JA, Contributions of Ih to feature selectivity in layer II stellate cells of the entorhinal cortex. J Comput Neurosci 2007 Apr;22(2):161-71

Rotstein HG, Oppermann T, White JA, Kopell N, The dynamic structure underlying subthreshold oscillatory activity and the onset of spikes in a model of medial entorhinal cortex stellate cells. J Comput Neurosci 2006 Dec;21(3):271-92

Pervouchine DD, Netoff TI, Rotstein HG, White JA, Cunningham MO, Whittington MA, Kopell NJ, Low-dimensional maps encoding dynamics in entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. Neural Comput 2006 Nov;18(11):2617-50

Dorval AD, White JA, Synaptic input statistics tune the variability and reproducibility of neuronal responses. Chaos 2006 Jun;16(2):026105

Zhou YD, Acker CD, Netoff TI, Sen K, White JA, Increasing Ca2+ transients by broadening postsynaptic action potentials enhances timing-dependent synaptic depression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2005 Dec 27;102(52):19121-5

Dorval AD Jr, White JA, Channel noise is essential for perithreshold oscillations in entorhinal stellate neurons. J Neurosci 2005 Oct 26;25(43):10025-8

Rotstein HG, Pervouchine DD, Acker CD, Gillies MJ, White JA, Buhl EH, Whittington MA, Kopell N, Slow and fast inhibition and an H-current interact to create a theta rhythm in a model of CA1 interneuron network. J Neurophysiol 2005 Aug;94(2):1509-18

Dasika VK, White JA, Carney LH, Colburn HS, Effects of inhibitory feedback in a network model of avian brain stem. J Neurophysiol 2005 Jul;94(1):400-14

Faisal AA, White JA, Laughlin SB, Ion-channel noise places limits on the miniaturization of the brain's wiring. Curr Biol 2005 Jun 21;15(12):1143-9

Netoff TI, Acker CD, Bettencourt JC, White JA, Beyond two-cell networks: experimental measurement of neuronal responses to multiple synaptic inputs. J Comput Neurosci 2005 Jun;18(3):287-95

Netoff TI, Banks MI, Dorval AD, Acker CD, Haas JS, Kopell N, White JA, Synchronization in hybrid neuronal networks of the hippocampal formation. J Neurophysiol 2005 Mar;93(3):1197-208

Netoff TI, Clewley R, Arno S, Keck T, White JA, Epilepsy in small-world networks. J Neurosci 2004 Sep 15;24(37):8075-83

Bursac N, Papadaki M, White JA, Eisenberg SR, Vunjak-Novakovic G, Freed LE, Cultivation in rotating bioreactors promotes maintenance of cardiac myocyte electrophysiology and molecular properties. Tissue Eng 2003 Dec;9(6):1243-53

Acker CD, Kopell N, White JA, Synchronization of strongly coupled excitatory neurons: relating network behavior to biophysics. J Comput Neurosci 2003 Jul-Aug;15(1):71-90

Haas JS, White JA, Frequency selectivity of layer II stellate cells in the medial entorhinal cortex. J Neurophysiol 2002 Nov;88(5):2422-9

Mino H, Rubinstein JT, White JA, Comparison of algorithms for the simulation of action potentials with stochastic sodium channels. Ann Biomed Eng 2002 Apr;30(4):578-87

Dorval AD, Christini DJ, White JA, Real-Time linux dynamic clamp: a fast and flexible way to construct virtual ion channels in living cells. Ann Biomed Eng 2001 Oct;29(10):897-907

White JA, Banks MI, Pearce RA, Kopell NJ, Networks of interneurons with fast and slow gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) kinetics provide substrate for mixed gamma-theta rhythm. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2000 Jul 5;97(14):8128-33

White JA, Rubinstein JT, Kay AR, Channel noise in neurons. Trends Neurosci 2000 Mar;23(3):131-7

Banks MI, White JA, Pearce RA, Interactions between distinct GABA(A) circuits in hippocampus. Neuron 2000 Feb;25(2):449-57