What is synaptic plasticity?
Professor Jeff Lichtman examines the concept of synaptic plasticity, a term that refers to the way the brain changes.
Synaptic plasticity is a term used by neuroscientists who are interested in focusing on the way the brain changes. The word plasticity has a lot to do with the word plastic, and anyone who has used plastic or felt a piece of plastic knows that plastic is different from objects like hard metals or rock in that it's pliable. Plastics bend and change and you can melt them a little bit, and change their shapes, you can mold them into what you would like them to look like. The idea is that synapses which are the sites of connections between nerve cells and other nerve cells have a plastic property. That is they're changeable, they mutate, not in a genetic sense, but they just change either their shape or their function over periods of time that could last for a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours, or perhaps even for a lifetime. There are many people who believe that when you learn something, when you experience something and you never forget that, that thing you never forget, the way it is built into your brain, is by changes in the structure and function of the synaptic connections. That is what Synaptic Plasticity is all about; figuring out what these changes are.
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Professor Graham Collingridge explains that synaptic plasticity is the way most information is stored in the central nervous system.
Professor Jeff Lichtman introduces the concept of synaptic competition, the process whereby nerve cells compete for space in the brain - much like protozoa in a very weird pond.
Professor Tom O'Dell discusses synaptic plasticity - the strengthening and weakening of synaptic connections between neurons.
Professor Eric Kandel introduces the concept of long-term potentiation, which refers to change in the strength of synaptic connections.
Professor Jeff Lichtman describes the process by which our nerve cells compete, which ultimately gives rise to our ability to learn and interact with the environment.
Professor Tom O'Dell comments that phosphorylation plays a crucial role in synaptic plasticity.
Professor Tom O'Dell defines depotentiation - the erasure of long-term potentiation (LTP) at the synapse.
Professor Graham Collingridge briefly describes how the NMDA receptor facilitates Hebbian learning (a mechanism of synaptic plasticity).
Doctor Gul Dolen defines synapse-opathies as disease where the synapse is the part of the brain that is disrupted. Fragile X and autism are examples.
Discs, large homolog 4 (DLG4) is a gene associated with learning and memory. The human DLG4 protein is 99% identical to the rat and mouse PSD-95 proteins.