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Neuron. 2011 Jul 14;71(1):155-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.04.026.

Timing-dependent septal cholinergic induction of dynamic hippocampal synaptic plasticity.

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Laboratory of Neurobiology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Cholinergic modulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity has been studied extensively by applying receptor agonists or blockers; however, the effect of rapid physiological cholinergic stimuli on plasticity is largely unknown. Here, we report that septal cholinergic input, activated either by electrical stimulation or via an optogenetic approach, induced different types of hippocampal Schaffer collateral (SC) to CA1 synaptic plasticity, depending on the timing of cholinergic input relative to the SC input. When the cholinergic input was activated 100 or 10 ms prior to SC stimulation, it resulted in α7 nAChR-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) or short-term depression, respectively. When the cholinergic stimulation was delayed until 10 ms after the SC stimulation, a muscarinic AChR-dependent LTP was induced. Moreover, these various forms of plasticity were disrupted by Aβ exposure. These results have revealed the remarkable temporal precision of cholinergic functions, providing a novel mechanism for information processing in cholinergic-dependent higher cognitive functions.

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