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Prog Neurobiol. 2015 Mar;126:19-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2014.12.002. Epub 2015 Jan 8.

Synaptic clustering within dendrites: an emerging theory of memory formation.

Author information

1
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IMBB), Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (FORTH), P.O. Box 1385, GR 70013 Heraklion, Greece.
2
Departments of Neurobiology, Psychology, Psychiatry, Integrative Center for Learning and Memory and Brain Research Institute, UCLA, 2554 Gonda Center, Los Angeles, CA 90095, United States.
3
Department of Psychology, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, United States.
4
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IMBB), Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (FORTH), P.O. Box 1385, GR 70013 Heraklion, Greece. Electronic address: poirazi@imbb.forth.gr.

Abstract

It is generally accepted that complex memories are stored in distributed representations throughout the brain, however the mechanisms underlying these representations are not understood. Here, we review recent findings regarding the subcellular mechanisms implicated in memory formation, which provide evidence for a dendrite-centered theory of memory. Plasticity-related phenomena which affect synaptic properties, such as synaptic tagging and capture, synaptic clustering, branch strength potentiation and spinogenesis provide the foundation for a model of memory storage that relies heavily on processes operating at the dendrite level. The emerging picture suggests that clusters of functionally related synapses may serve as key computational and memory storage units in the brain. We discuss both experimental evidence and theoretical models that support this hypothesis and explore its advantages for neuronal function.

KEYWORDS:

Active dendrites; Associative memory; Plasticity; Synapse clustering; Synaptic tagging and capture

PMID:
25576663
PMCID:
PMC4361279
DOI:
10.1016/j.pneurobio.2014.12.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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