Synaptic Signaling in Learning and Memory
Learning and memory require the formation of new neural networks in the brain. A key mechanism underlying this process is synaptic plasticity at excitatory synapses, which connect neurons into networks. Excitatory synaptic transmission happens when glutamate, the excitatory neurotransmitter, activates receptors on the postsynaptic neuron. Synaptic plasticity is a higher-level process in which the strength of excitatory synapses is altered in response to the pattern of activity at the synapse. It is initiated in the postsynaptic compartment, where the precise pattern of influx of calcium through activated glutamate receptors leads either to the addition of new receptors and enlargement of the synapse (long-term potentiation) or the removal of receptors and shrinkage of the synapse (long-term depression). Calcium/calmodulin-regulated enzymes and small GTPases collaborate to control this highly tuned mechanism.
© 2016 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. The Authors acknowledge that six months after the full-issue publication date, the Article will be distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Published in Advance December 30, 2013.
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