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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. Apr 29, 2003; 358(1432): 643–647.
PMCID: PMC1693171

Long-term potentiation and memory.


The discovery of long-term potentiation (LTP) transformed research on the neurobiology of learning and memory. This did not happen overnight, but the discovery of an experimentally demonstrable phenomenon reflecting activity-driven neuronal and synaptic plasticity changed discussions about what might underlie learning from speculation into something much more concrete. Equally, however, the relationship between the discovery of LTP and research on the neurobiology of learning and memory has been reciprocal; for it is also true that studies of the psychological, anatomical and neurochemical basis of memory provided a developing and critical intellectual context for the physiological discovery. The emerging concept of multiple memory systems, from 1970 onwards, paved the way for the development of new behavioural and cognitive tasks, including the watermaze described in this paper. The use of this task in turn provided key evidence that pharmacological interference with an LTP induction mechanism would also interfere with learning, a finding that was by no means a foregone conclusion. This reciprocal relationship between studies of LTP and the neurobiology of memory helped the physiological phenomenon to be recognized as a major discovery.

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Selected References

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