Susan L. Patterson

Psychology and Neuroscience; Member of the Center for Neuroscience

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience,
Campus Box 345
Muenzinger D446C
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0345

email: susan.patterson@colorado.edu
Phone: (303) 735-2927
FAX: (303) 492-2967

Susan.Patterson received her Ph.D. in Physiology and Psychology from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1993. She was a post-doctoral fellow and then a research associate with Dr. Eric Kandel at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University before joining the Psychology Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2004.


Dr. Patterson’s main research interests center around the contributions of members of the nerve growth factor family of proteins (collectively called the neurotrophins) to experience-dependent changes in brain function. These types of changes underlie a variety of important brain processes, including the refinement of connections between nerve cells during development, learning, and memory storage. Experience-dependent changes in the efficacy of connections between nerve cells (synaptic plasticity) probably also contribute to the pathology and treatment of brain disorders as diverse as epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, and drug addiction. Dr. Patterson’s research on neurotrophins falls into three broad categories: (1) Basic cell biology - where and how do the neurotrophins work? (2) Questions of context - the existence of multiple forms of synaptic plasticity with distinct molecular mechanisms suggests that they may be invoked under different circumstances (perhaps by changing behavioral or attentional states) and regulated by different neurotransmitters or growth factors. What characterizes neurotrophin-dependent plasticity at the cellular and systems levels? (3) Possible links between disease and dysfunction – what happens when neurotrophin signaling is impaired?

Selected Publications:

T.R. Chapman, R.M. Barrientos, J. Hoover, S.F. Maier, and S.L. Patterson. Aging and infection reduces constitutive and activity-dependent BDNF gene expression in pyramidal layers of the hippocampus. Neurobiology of Aging. In press.

R.M. Barrientoes, M.G. Frank, N.Y. Crysdale, T.R. Chapman, J.T. Ahrendsen, H.E.W. Day, S. Campeau, L.R. Watkins, S.L. Patterson, S.F. Maier. Little exercise, big effects: Reversing aging and infection-induced memory deficits, and underlying processes. J Neuroscience 31(32):11578-11586, 2011.

G.P. Cortese, R.M. Barrientos, S.F. Maier, and S.L. Patterson. Aging and a peripheral immune challenge interect to reduce levels of BDNF isoforms and activation of PLCY1 in hippocampal synaptoneurosomes. J. Neuroscience 31(11): 4274-4279, 2011.

T.R. Chapman, R.M. Barrientos, J.T. Ahrendsen, S.F. Maier, and S.L. Patterson. Synaptic correlates of increased cognitive vulnerability with aging: peripheral immune challenge and aging interact to disrupt theta-burst L-LTP in hippocampal area CA1. J. Neuroscience 30(22): 7598-603, 2010.

A. Barco, S. Patterson, J.M. Alarcon, P. Gromova, M. Mata-Roig, A. Morozov, and E.R. Kandel. *Authors contributed equally to the work — Patterson did the BDNF-related electrophysiology. Gene Expression Profiling of Facilitated L-LTP in VP16-CREB Mice Reveals that BDNF Is Critical for the Maintenance of LTP and Its Synaptic Capture. Neuron. 48: 123-137, 2005.

S. S. Zakharenko, S. L Patterson, I. Dragatsis, S. O. Zeitlin, S. A. Siegelbaum, E. R. Kandel, A. Morozov. Presynaptic BDNF required for a presynaptic but not postsynaptic component of LTP at hippocampal CA1-CA3 synapses. Neuron 39: 975-990, 2003.

S. L. Patterson, C. Pittenger, A. Morozov, K. C. Martin, H. Scanlin, C. T. Drake and E. R. Kandel. Some forms of cAMP-mediated long lasting potentiation are associated with release of BDNF and nuclear translocation of MAP kinase. Neuron 32:123-140, 2001.

C. T. Drake, T. A. Milner, and S. L. Patterson. Ultrastructural localization of full-length TrkB immunoreactivity in rat hippocampus suggests multiple roles in modulating activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. J. Neuroscience 19(18):8009-8026, 1999.

S. L. Patterson, T. Abel, T. A. S. Deuel, K. C. Martin, J. C. Rose and E. R. Kandel. Recombinant BDNF rescues deficits in basal synaptic transmission and hippocampal LTP in BDNF knockout mice. Neuron 16:1137-1145, 1996.

S. L. Patterson, L. M. Grover, P. A. Schwartzkroin and M. Bothwell. Activity dependent changes in neurotrophin expression in rat hippocampal slices - induction of LTP in CA1 evokes increases in BDNF and NT-3 mRNAs. Neuron 9:1081-1088, 1992.