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Prog Brain Res. 2008;169:145-58. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00008-8.

Synaptic plasticity in learning and memory: stress effects in the hippocampus.

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Neural Systems and Plasticity Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A5, Canada.


Synaptic plasticity has often been argued to play an important role in learning and memory. The discovery of long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD), the two most widely cited cellular models of synaptic plasticity, significantly spurred research in this field. Although correlative evidence suggesting a role for synaptic changes such as those seen in LTP and LTD in learning and memory has been gained in a number of studies, definitive demonstrations of a specific role for either LTP or LTD in learning and memory are lacking. In this review, we discuss a number of recent advancements in the understanding of the mechanisms that mediate LTP and LTD in the rodent hippocampus and focus on the use of subunit-specific N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists and interference peptides as potential tools to study the role of synaptic plasticity in learning and memory. By using the modulation of synaptic plasticity and hippocampal-dependent learning and memory by acute stress as an example, we review a large body of convincing evidence indicating that alterations in synaptic plasticity underlie the changes in learning and memory produced by acute stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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