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Neurosci Lett. 2002 Nov 8;332(3):180-4.

Learning-induced multiple synapse formation in rat cerebellar cortex.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.


Strengthening of synaptic connections has been proposed to underlie information storage in the brain, and experience-dependent increases in synapse number have been observed. However, the effect of these new synapses on the specific connectivity, and thus function, of a given brain area remains largely unknown. We report here that motor learning specifically induces the formation of multiple synapses--two post-synaptic contacts at a single pre-synaptic varicosity--in the cerebellum. Rats undergoing motor learning had more multiple synapses (two Purkinje cell spines contacting a given parallel fiber varicosity) per Purkinje cell than did active or inactive controls. The formation of multiple synapses provides an additional connection between a given parallel fiber and Purkinje cell, thereby enhancing particular pathways, and may constitute a fundamental mechanism of neural encoding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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