Synaptic plasticity

From Academic Kids

The term synaptic plasticity refers to the variability of the strength of a signal transmitted through a synapse. Synaptic plasticity is part of the Hebbian theory about the neurochemical foundations of memory and learning.

Two known molecular mechanisms for synaptic plasticity were revealed by research in laboratories such as that of Eric Kandel. The first mechanism involves covalent modification of existing synaptic proteins (typically protein phosphorylation) resulting in altered synaptic function. The second mechanism depends on regulation of gene transcription and changes in the levels of key proteins at synapses. This second mechanism can be triggered by protein phosphorylation but takes longer and lasts longer, providing the mechanism for long-lasting memory storage. Long-lasting changes in synaptic connectivity between two neurons can involve the making and breaking of synaptic contacts.

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