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J Neurosci. 2013 Aug 21;33(34):13914-26. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0466-13.2013.

Dopaminergic control of long-term depression/long-term potentiation threshold in prefrontal cortex.

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University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris, France.


Long-term memory in the prefrontal cortex is a necessary component of adaptive executive control and is strongly modulated by dopamine. However, the functional significance of this dopaminergic modulation remains elusive. In vitro experimental results on dopamine-dependent shaping of prefrontal long-term plasticity often appear inconsistent and, altogether, draw a complicated picture. It is also generally difficult to relate these findings to in vivo observations given strong differences between the two experimental conditions. This study presents a unified view of the functional role of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex by framing it within the Bienenstock-Cooper-Munro theory of cortical plasticity. We investigate dopaminergic modulation of long-term plasticity through a multicompartment Hodgkin-Huxley model of a prefrontal pyramidal neuron. Long-term synaptic plasticity in the model is governed by a calcium- and dopamine-dependent learning rule, in which dopamine exerts its action via D1 and D2 dopamine receptors in a concentration-dependent manner. Our results support a novel function of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, namely that it controls the synaptic modification threshold between long-term depression and potentiation in pyramidal neurons. The proposed theoretical framework explains a wide range of experimental results and provides a link between in vitro and in vivo studies of dopaminergic plasticity modulation. It also suggests that dopamine may constitute a new player in metaplastic and homeostatic processes in the prefrontal cortex.

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