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Cellscience. 2006 Jan 28;2(3):1-9.

Hardwiring goes soft: long-term modulation of electrical synapses in the mammalian brain.

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School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, CF10 3US, UK.


Following certain patterns of electrical activity the strength of conventional chemical synapses in many areas of the mammalian brain can be subject to long-term modifications. Such modifications have been extensively characterised and are hypothesised to form the basis of learning and memory. A recent study in Science now shows that activity-dependent long-term modifications may also occur in the strength of mammalian electrical synapses. This raises the enticing possibility that electrical synapses might also contribute to neural plasticity and challenges the notion that in the mammalian CNS they are a simple mechanism for 'hardwiring' discrete neuronal populations.


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