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Annu Rev Neurosci. 2010;33:131-49. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-060909-153252.

Watching synaptogenesis in the adult brain.

Author information

1
Picower Institute of Learning and Memory, Department of Biology and Brain, Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA. kelsch@mit.edu

Abstract

Although the lifelong addition of new neurons to the olfactory bulb and dentate gyrus of mammalian brains is by now an accepted fact, the function of adult-generated neurons still largely remains a mystery. The ability of new neurons to form synapses with preexisting neurons without disrupting circuit function is central to the hypothesized role of adult neurogenesis as a substrate for learning and memory. With the development of several new genetic labeling and imaging techniques, the study of synapse development and integration of these new neurons into mature circuits both in vitro and in vivo is rapidly advancing our insight into their structural plasticity. Investigators' observation of synaptogenesis occurring in the adult brain is beginning to shed light on the flexibility that adult neurogenesis offers to mature circuits and the potential contribution of the transient plasticity that new neurons provide toward circuit refinement and adaptation to changing environmental demands.

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