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Exp Neurol. 2003 Aug;182(2):497-506.

Effects of stimulus frequency and age on bidirectional synaptic plasticity in the dentate gyrus of freely moving rats.

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Department of Engineering, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 06106, USA.


We investigated the frequency-dependent transition from homosynaptic long-term depression (LTD) to long-term potentiation (LTP) at the lateral perforant pathway/dentate gyrus synapse in adult (90 days of age) and immature (15 days of age) awake, freely moving rats. Dentate-evoked field potentials were recorded and analyzed using the population spike amplitude and the field EPSP slope measures following sustained stimulation (900 pulses) of the lateral perforant pathway at various frequencies (1, 3, 7, 30, 50, or 200 Hz). Our results indicate that both the strength and the direction (LTP or LTD) of synaptic plasticity vary as a function of activation frequency: sustained low-frequency stimulation ranging from 1 to 7 Hz results in depression of activated synapses, whereas high-frequency stimulation (30-200 Hz) produces potentiation. In addition, a significant (P < 0.01) ontogenetic shift in the frequency of transition from LTD to LTP was observed; the transition frequency in immature animals was significantly lower than that obtained in adult animals. These observations agree strongly with the prediction of the Bienenstock-Cooper-Munro theory of synapse modification, indicating perhaps a neurophysiological basis for this theoretical model of learning in the dentate gyrus of awake behaving rats.

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