Dr Jesse Ashton

BE (Hons) ME (Hons)


Jesse has Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy (to be conferred) degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Auckland. His research to date has focused on nervous system control of heart rhythm and the mechanisms that contribute to development of cardiac arrhythmias. His particular strengths are in electrophysiological measurement, imaging and microscopy, data analysis, image processing, software development and computational modelling. The overall goal of his research is to develop new technologies to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of neurogenic cardiac arrhythmias.

Research | Current

Jesse's current postdoctoral research with A/Prof. Montgomery is focussed on determining how changes in the communication within the network of neurons that innervate the heart can contribute to triggering episodes of atrial fibrillation in the context of hypertension and heart failure.  Mechanisms that alter neuronal function and neurotransmission in heart failure have been identified but little is known about the properties of the connections – termed ‘synapses’ – formed by intracardiac neurons.  Our novel hypothesis is that changes in the structure and function at these synapses alter autonomic tone to the heart and enhance the likelihood of atrial arrhythmia.


Research group

Synaptic Function Research Group

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Ashton, J. L., Burton, R. A. B., Bub, G., Smaill, B. H., & Montgomery, J. M. (2018). Synaptic Plasticity in Cardiac Innervation and Its Potential Role in Atrial Fibrillation. Frontiers in physiology, 910.3389/fphys.2018.00240
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Smaill, Johanna Montgomery
  • Ashton, J. L., Le Grice, I. J., Paterson, D. J., Paton, J. F. R., Trew, M. L., Gillis, A. M., & Smaill, B. H. (2017). Shift of dominant pacemaker site during reflex vagal stimulation is the result of propagation failure. Paper presented at Heart Rhythm Society 38th Annual Scientific Sessions, Chicago, USA. 10 May - 13 May 2017. Heart Rhythm. 10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.04.010
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36683
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ian LeGrice, David Paterson, Julian Paton, Mark Trew, Bruce Smaill
  • Ashton, J. L. (2016). Autonomic reflex control of dominant pacemaker location and impulse propagation in the right atrium The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34237
  • Ashton, J. L., Paton, J. F. R., Trew, M. L., LeGrice, I. J., & Smaill, B. H. (2013). A working heart-brainstem preparation of the rat for the study of reflex mediated autonomic influences on atrial arrhythmia development.. United States. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 10.1109/EMBC.2013.6610368
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Smaill, Ian LeGrice, Mark Trew, Julian Paton
  • Ashton, J. L., Hooks, D. A., & Smaill, B. H. (2011). Laminar microstructure mediates virtual electrode polarizations that abolish reentry. Paper presented at 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society, San Francisco, California, USA. 5 May - 7 May 2011. Heart Rhythm.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/32896
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mark Trew, Bruce Smaill
  • Schmid, H., Wang, Y. K., Ashton, J., Ehret, A. E., Krittian, S. B. S., Nash, M. P., & Hunter, P. J. (2009). Myocardial material parameter estimation: a comparison of invariant based orthotropic constitutive equations. COMPUTER METHODS IN BIOMECHANICS AND BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, 12 (3), 283-295. 10.1080/10255840802459420
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/9075
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Hunter, Martyn Nash
  • Trew, M. L., Ashton, J. L., Caldwell, B. J., & Smaill, B. H. (2009). Shock Induced Electrical Activation in Structurally Detailed Models of Pig Left-Ventricular Tissue. Paper presented at Annual International Conference of the IEEE-Engineering-in-Medicine-and-Biology-Society, Minneapolis, MN. 3 September - 6 September 2009. 2009 ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE IEEE ENGINEERING IN MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY SOCIETY, VOLS 1-20. (pp. 4). 10.1109/IEMBS.2009.5333684
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mark Trew, Gregory Sands, Bryan Caldwell, Bruce Smaill