Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Neurosci. 2014 Oct;37(10):604-14. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2014.08.011. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

Synapse rearrangements upon learning: from divergent-sparse connectivity to dedicated sub-circuits.

Author information

Friedrich Miescher Institut, Basel, Switzerland. Electronic address: pico.caroni@fmi.chi.
Friedrich Miescher Institut, Basel, Switzerland.


Learning can involve formation of new synapses and loss of synapses, providing memory traces of learned skills. Recent findings suggest that these synapse rearrangements reflect assembly of task-related sub-circuits from initially broadly distributed and sparse connectivity in the brain. These local circuit remodeling processes involve rapid emergence of synapses upon learning, followed by protracted validation involving strengthening of some new synapses, and selective elimination of others. The timing of these consolidation processes can vary. Here, we review these findings, focusing on how molecular/cellular mechanisms of synapse assembly, strengthening, and elimination might interface with circuit/system mechanisms of learning and memory consolidation. An integrated understanding of these learning-related processes should provide a better basis to elucidate how experience, genetic background, and disease influence brain function.


adult plasticity; connectomics; learning; memory consolidation; synapse elimination; synapse formation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center