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Neural Plast. 2012;2012:718203. doi: 10.1155/2012/718203. Epub 2012 May 17.

Wherefore art thou, homeo(stasis)? Functional diversity in homeostatic synaptic plasticity.

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Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3900 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20057, USA.


Homeostatic plasticity has emerged as a fundamental regulatory principle that strives to maintain neuronal activity within optimal ranges by altering diverse aspects of neuronal function. Adaptation to network activity is often viewed as an essential negative feedback restraint that prevents runaway excitation or inhibition. However, the precise importance of these homeostatic functions is often theoretical rather than empirically derived. Moreover, a remarkable multiplicity of homeostatic adaptations has been observed. To clarify these issues, it may prove useful to ask: why do homeostatic mechanisms exist, what advantages do these adaptive responses confer on a given cell population, and why are there so many seemingly divergent effects? Here, we approach these questions by applying the principles of control theory to homeostatic synaptic plasticity of mammalian neurons and suggest that the varied responses observed may represent distinct functional classes of control mechanisms directed toward disparate physiological goals.

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