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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 23;93(15):8011-5.

Long-term modifications of synaptic efficacy in the human inferior and middle temporal cortex.

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Section of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
Yale U, New Haven, CT


The primate temporal cortex has been demonstrated to play an important role in visual memory and pattern recognition. It is of particular interest to investigate whether activity-dependent modification of synaptic efficacy, a presumptive mechanism for learning and memory, is present in this cortical region. Here we address this issue by examining the induction of synaptic plasticity in surgically resected human inferior and middle temporal cortex. The results show that synaptic strength in the human temporal cortex could undergo bidirectional modifications, depending on the pattern of conditioning stimulation. High frequency stimulation (100 or 40 Hz) in layer IV induced long-term potentiation (LTP) of both intracellular excitatory postsynaptic potentials and evoked field potentials in layers II/III. The LTP induced by 100 Hz tetanus was blocked by 50-100 microM DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid, suggesting that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors were responsible for its induction. Long-term depression (LTD) was elicited by prolonged low frequency stimulation (1 Hz, 15 min). It was reduced, but not completely blocked, by DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid, implying that some other mechanisms in addition to N-methyl-DL-aspartate receptors were involved in LTD induction. LTD was input-specific, i.e., low frequency stimulation of one pathway produced LTD of synaptic transmission in that pathway only. Finally, the LTP and LTD could reverse each other, suggesting that they can act cooperatively to modify the functional state of cortical network. These results suggest that LTP and LTD are possible mechanisms for the visual memory and pattern recognition functions performed in the human temporal cortex.

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