Send to

Choose Destination
J Physiol. 2009 May 1;587(Pt 9):1889-96. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.169458. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Developmental alterations in the functional properties of excitatory neocortical synapses.

Author information

Research Centre Jülich, Institute for Neuroscience and Medicine, INM-2, Juelich, Germany.


In the neocortex, most excitatory, glutamatergic synapses are established during the first 4-5 weeks after birth. During this period profound changes in the properties of synaptic transmission occur. Excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) at immature synaptic connections are profoundly and progressively reduced in response to moderate to high frequency (5-100 Hz) stimulation. With maturation, this frequency-dependent depression becomes progressively weaker and may eventually transform into a weak to moderate EPSP facilitation. In parallel to changes in the short-term plasticity, a reduction in the synaptic reliability occurs at most glutamatergic neocortical synapses: immature synapses show a high probability of neurotransmitter release as indicated by their low failure rate and small EPSP amplitude variation. This high reliability is reduced in mature synapses, which show considerably higher failure rates and more variable EPSP amplitudes. During early neocortical development synaptic vesicle pools are not yet fully differentiated and their replenishment may be slow, thus resulting in EPSP amplitude depression. The decrease in the probability of neurotransmitter release may be the result of an altered Ca(2+) control in the presynaptic terminal with a reduced Ca(2+) influx and/or a higher Ca(2+) buffering capacity. This may lead to a lower synaptic reliability and a weaker short-term synaptic depression with maturation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center