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Role in memory
- Main article: Hebbian theory
It is widely accepted that the synapse plays a role in the formation of memory. As neurotransmitters activate receptors across the synaptic cleft, the connection between the two neurons is strengthened when both neurons are active at the same time, as a result of the receptor's signalling mechanisms. The strength of two connected neural pathways is thought to result in the storage of information, resulting in memory. This process of synaptic strengthening is known as long-term potentiation.
By altering the release of neurotransmitters, plasticity of synapses can be controlled in the presynaptic cell. The postsynaptic cell can be regulated by altering the function and number of its receptors. Changes in postsynaptic signaling are most commonly associated with N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD), which are the most analyzed forms of plasticity at excitatory synapses.
- Lynch, M. A. (January 1, 2004). Long-Term Potentiation and Memory. Physiological Reviews 84 (1): 87–136.
- (October 11, 2011)Regulation of Excitatory Synapses and Fearful Memories by Stress Hormones. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience 5: 62.
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