Clusters and Synapses

2020. április 9.

The paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience demonstrates that multiple plasticity mechanisms coexist in the thin dendrites of pyramidal neurons. Synaptic plasticity is the neuronal basis of learning and memory, and most researchers believe that the plasticity rules are relatively simple: they depend only on the correlated pre- and postsynaptic activity. Here we demonstrated that this is not the case as different rules apply for the terminal of the branches and their base, and the plasticity depends on the spatial pattern and mode of voltage integration on the inputs as well. A recent blogpost gives an excellent introduction.

The Nature Communications paper is a purely modelling study, we investigated how spatial clustering of the synapses that show similar activity on the dendritic tree of the postsynaptic neuron changes the response of the neuron. We found that such clusters can only influence the response if they are sufficiently large, but not too large. Our theory thus predicts the cluster size that is optimal for information storage in synapse clusters. Moreover, our simulations demonstrate that the formation of synapse clusters require local plasticity rules, potentially similar to those described in the first paper.