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Neuroscience. 2011 Mar 10;176:12-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.12.056. Epub 2011 Jan 5.

Learning and memory consolidation: linking molecular and behavioral data.

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Institut de Neurociencia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.


This paper puts together and links some classic and recent molecular data and hypothesis from different authors and laboratories related to learning and memory consolidation. Mainly addressed to non-specialists, it describes how the glutamatergic activation of plastic synapses in the hippocampus can give rise to new or enlarged dendritic spines which may constitute the main structural basis of some kind of memories. To establish learning and memory, the nervous system can use part of the same mechanisms which make the basic structure of neurons during the ontogenetic development of the brain. Through different families of kinases, phosphatases and other proteins, the activated N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and different intracellular signals originated in the post-synaptic membranes can promote the synthesis of new proteins and the dynamic of actin. The consecutive morphological changes in the cytoskeleton of the neuron, later stabilized by new receptors inserted in the post-synaptic membranes, make possible memory consolidation. Short and long-term, as well as persistence, of memory mechanisms are related to these molecular processes. Recent research on system consolidation and memory allocation in neural circuits is also explained.

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