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Learn Mem. 2009 Jan 7;16(1):69-81. doi: 10.1101/lm.1179109. Print 2009 Jan.

LTP in hippocampal area CA1 is induced by burst stimulation over a broad frequency range centered around delta.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, Marshall University, School of Medicine, Huntington, West Virginia 25755, USA.


Long-term potentiation (LTP) is typically studied using either continuous high-frequency stimulation or theta burst stimulation. Previous studies emphasized the physiological relevance of theta frequency; however, synchronized hippocampal activity occurs over a broader frequency range. We therefore tested burst stimulation at intervals from 100 msec to 20 sec (10 Hz to 0.05 Hz). LTP at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses was obtained at intervals from 100 msec to 5 sec, with maximal LTP at 350-500 msec (2-3 Hz, delta frequency). In addition, a short-duration potentiation was present over the entire range of burst intervals. We found that N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors were more important for LTP induction by burst stimulation, but L-type calcium channels were more important for LTP induction by continuous high-frequency stimulation. NMDA receptors were even more critical for short-duration potentiation than they were for LTP. We also compared repeated burst stimulation with a single primed burst. In contrast to results from repeated burst stimulation, primed burst potentiation was greater when a 200-msec interval (theta frequency) was used, and a 500-msec interval was ineffective. Whole-cell recordings of postsynaptic membrane potential during burst stimulation revealed two factors that may determine the interval dependence of LTP. First, excitatory postsynaptic potentials facilitated across bursts at 500-msec intervals but not 200-msec or 1-sec intervals. Second, synaptic inhibition was suppressed by burst stimulation at intervals between 200 msec and 1 sec. Our data show that CA1 synapses are more broadly tuned for potentiation than previously appreciated.

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