Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1996 Jun 6;381(6582):526-8.

Experience-dependent modification of synaptic plasticity in visual cortex.

Author information

Department of Neuroscience and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


In many regions of the cerebral cortex, Ca2+ influx through NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) sensitive glutamate receptors (NMDA receptors) can trigger two forms of synaptic plasticity: long-term depression (LTD) and long-term potentiation (LTP). LTD is induced by low levels of postsynaptic NMDA-receptor activation, for instance in response to low-frequency stimulation, whereas LTP is induced by the stronger activation that occurs following high-frequency stimulation. Theoretical studies have shown that the properties of synaptic LTD and LTP can account for many aspects of experience-dependent plasticity in the developing visual cortex, provided that the LTD-LTP crossover point (the modification threshold, theta(m)) varies as a function of the history of cortical activity. Here we provide direct experimental evidence that the value of theta(m) depends on sensory experience. We find in visual cortex of light-deprived rats that LTP is enhanced and LTD diminished over a range of stimulation frequencies, and that these effects can be reversed by as little as two days of light exposure. Our findings support the idea that a variable synaptic modification threshold allows synaptic weights in neural networks to achieve a stable equilibrium.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center