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Aging Cell. 2007 Jun;6(3):327-36.

Alterations in intrinsic neuronal excitability during normal aging.

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1
Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611-3008, USA. jdisterhoft@northwestern.edu

Abstract

Normal aging subjects, including humans, have difficulty learning hippocampus-dependent tasks. For example, at least 50% of normal aging rabbits and rats fail to meet a learning criterion in trace eyeblink conditioning. Many factors may contribute to this age-related learning impairment. An important cause is the reduced intrinsic excitability observed in hippocampal pyramidal neurons from normal aging subjects, as reflected by an enlarged postburst afterhyperpolarization (AHP) and an increased spike-frequency adaptation (accommodation). In this review, we will focus on the alterations in the AHP and accommodation during learning and normal aging. We propose that age-related increases in the postburst AHP and accommodation in hippocampal pyramidal neurons play an integral role in the learning impairment observed in normal aging subjects.

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