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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Oct;20(5):557-62. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.06.002.

Neuronal structural remodeling: is it all about access?

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Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Recently, stable labeling techniques and use of two-photon microscopy for deep tissue imaging have enabled observation of neuronal structural dynamics within intact cerebral cortical circuits. These studies demonstrate that while neuronal structures are predominantly stable in the adult, a fraction of dendrites and axons are highly dynamic and responsive to experience, remodeling with precise cell type and laminar specificity. The qualitative and quantitative features of dendritic spine, dendritic branch, and axonal remodeling suggest that their purpose may be to provide access to and alter connectivity between different circuits in cortical space. The net number of synapses lost or gained during arbor remodeling may not be as important as the change to the circuit diagram resulting from the shuffling of synaptic partners.

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