Postsynaptic signaling networks: Cellular cogwheels underlying long-term plasticity

Robert D. Blitzer, Ravi Iyengar, Emmanuel M. Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Learning depends on positive or negative changes in synaptic transmission that are synapse-specific and sustained. Synaptic signals can be directly measured and respond to certain kinds of stimulation by becoming persistently enhanced (long-term potentiation, LTP) or decreased (long-term depression, LTD). Studying LTP and LTD opens a window on to the molecular mechanisms of memory. Although changes in both pre- and postsynaptic strength have been implicated in LTP and LTD, most attention has been focused on changes in postsynaptic glutamate receptor density. This is controlled by intracellular Ca2+ ions via a network of signaling molecules. Changes in postsynaptic Ca 2+ concentration depend on the coincidence of appropriate synaptic signals, as is found in learning situations. The long-term persistence of LTP and LTD requires gene transcription and translation. It is posited that local translation at the synapse, in a self-sustaining manner, mediates the persistence of long-term changes despite constant turnover of the synaptic components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2005


  • Dendrites
  • LTP
  • RNA granules
  • hippocampus
  • long-term potentiation
  • protein synthesis
  • tagging


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