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BMC Neuroscience

Open Access

The modular cross-synaptic nature of LTP/LTD following on-going neural activity

  • Alex Loebel1Email author,
  • Jean-Vincent Le Bé2,
  • Magnus JE Richardson3,
  • Andreas Herz1 and
  • Henry Markram2
Contributed equally
BMC Neuroscience201112(Suppl 1):O1

Published: 18 July 2011

While synaptic efficacies are modified continuously by on-going spiking activity, it is yet unclear whether the underlying pre- and post-synaptic processes occur independently, or in accordance. To elucidate the effects of sustained spiking communication on synaptic properties, we patch-clamped paired pyramidal neurons in-vitro at both ends of 12h intervals of spontaneous or glutamate-induced spiking activity. We found that the synaptic efficacies either increased, or decreased, with the ratio between the second and first measurement ranging between 0.08-14. Using quantal and failure analyses we show that this slow form of long-term potentiation and depression is explained by changes in the estimated number of release sites, alongside overall post-synaptic changes that maintain the quantal size per release site. Our findings suggest that sustained neural activity results in matched pre- and post-synaptic modifications, in which elementary modules that span the synaptic cleft are added or subtracted as a function of experience.


Authors’ Affiliations

Department Biologie II, LMU, and Bernstein Center Munich
Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Warwick Systems Biology Centre, University of Warwick


© Loebel et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.