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Trends Neurosci. 1998 Dec;21(12):529-37.

Time domains of neuronal Ca2+ signaling and associative memory: steps through a calexcitin, ryanodine receptor, K+ channel cascade.

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Laboratory of Adaptive Systems, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, MD 20892-4012, USA.


Synaptic changes that underlie associative learning and memory begin with temporally related activity of two or more independent synaptic inputs to common postsynaptic targets. In turn, temporally related molecular events regulate cytosolic Ca2+ during progressively longer-lasting time domains. Associative learning behaviors of living animals have been correlated with changes of neuronal voltage-dependent K+ currents, protein kinase C-mediated phosphorylation and synthesis of the Ca2+ and GTP-binding protein, calexcitin (CE),and increased expression of the Ca2+-releasing ryanodine receptor (type II). These molecular events, some of which have been found to be dysfunctional in Alzheimer's disease, provide means of altering dendritic excitability and thus synaptic efficacy during induction, consolidation and storage of associative memory. Apparently, such stages of behavioral learning correspond to sequential differences of Ca2+ signaling that could occur in spatially segregated dendritic compartments distributed across brain structures, such as the hippocampus.

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