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Trends Neurosci. 1999 May;22(5):221-7.

Homeostatic plasticity in neuronal networks: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  • 1Dept of Biology and Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454, USA.


During learning and development, neural circuitry is refined, in part, through changes in the number and strength of synapses. Most studies of long-term changes in synaptic strength have concentrated on Hebbian mechanisms, where these changes occur in a synapse-specific manner. While Hebbian mechanisms are important for modifying neuronal circuitry selectively, they might not be sufficient because they tend to destabilize the activity of neuronal networks. Recently, several forms of homeostatic plasticity that stabilize the properties of neural circuits have been identified. These include mechanisms that regulate neuronal excitability, stabilize total synaptic strength, and influence the rate and extent of synapse formation. These forms of homeostatic plasticity are likely to go 'hand-in-glove' with Hebbian mechanisms to allow experience to modify the properties of neuronal networks selectively.

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