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The ability of neurons to modify their structure and function as a result of activity is critical for normal devel-
 

Summary: The ability of neurons to modify their structure and
function as a result of activity is critical for normal devel-
opment, learning and responding to brain damage and
neurological disease. At the synaptic level, neural activity
can generate persistent forms of synaptic plasticity, such
as long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression
(LTD). There is now a wealth of data indicating that LTP
and LTD mechanisms are used to retain new informa-
tion in activated networks of neurons1,2
. Safeguards must
therefore be in place to prevent the saturation of LTP
or LTD, which could ultimately compromise the ability
of networks to discriminate events and store informa-
tion and, in the case of extreme levels of LTP, lead to
excitotoxicity.
How is the proper balance of LTP and LTD main-
tained? Various intercellular signalling molecules
-- including catecholamines, GABA (-aminobutyric
acid), acetylcholine, cytokines and hormones -- directly
regulate the degree of LTP and LTD that can be induced.

  

Source: Alford, Simon - Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine