Activity-dependent morphological plasticity of neurons is central to understanding how the synaptic network of the CNS becomes reconfigured in response to experience. In recent years, several studies have shown that synaptic activation that leads to the induction of long-term potentiation also drives the growth of new dendritic spines, raising the possibility that new synapses are made. We examine this directly by correlating time-lapse two-photon microscopy of newly formed spines on CA1 pyramidal neurons in organotypic hippocampal slices with electron microscopy. Our results show that, whereas spines that are only a few hours old rarely form synapses, older spines, ranging from 15 to 19 h, consistently have ultrastructural hallmarks typical of synapses. This is in agreement with a recent in vivo study that showed that, after a few days, new spines consistently form functional synapses. In addition, our study provides a much more detailed understanding of the first few hours after activity-dependent spinogenesis. Within tens of minutes, physical contacts are formed with existing presynaptic boutons, which slowly, over the course of many hours, mature into new synapses.
"For example, cortical and thalamic afferents onto the same dendrite in the lateral nucleus of amygdala were distinguished by spine structure and function: thalamic inputs terminate on mushroom spines and show larger Ca 2+ transients than cortical inputs that make contacts on long spines (Humeau et al., 2005). Filopodial-like long spines have been proposed as learning spines because formation of filopodia is observed within minutes of LTP-inducing stimulation (Nagerl et al., 2007) "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spines are small protrusions arising from dendrites that receive most excitatory synaptic input in the brain. Dendritic spines represent dynamic structures that undergo activity-dependent adaptations, for example, during synaptic plasticity. Alterations of spine morphology, changes of spine type ratios or density have consequently been found in paradigms of learning and memory, and accompany many neuropsychiatric disorders. Polymorphisms in the gene encoding KIBRA, a protein present in kidney and brain, are linked to memory performance and cognition in humans and mouse models. Deletion of KIBRA impairs long-term synaptic plasticity and postsynaptic receptor recycling but no information is available on the morphology of dendritic spines in null-mutant mice. Here, we directly examine the role of KIBRA in spinous synapses using knockout mice. Since KIBRA is normally highly expressed in neocortex and hippocampus at juvenile age, we analyze synapse morphology in intact tissue and in neuronal cultures from these brain regions. Quantification of different dendritic spine types in Golgi-impregnated sections and in transfected neurons coherently reveal a robust increase of filopodial-like long protrusions in the absence of KIBRA. While distribution of pre- and postsynaptic marker proteins, overall synapse ultrastructure and density of asymmetric contacts were remarkably normal, electron microscopy additionally uncovered less perforated synapses and spinules in knockout neurons. Thus, our results indicate that KIBRA is involved in the maintenance of normal ratios of spinous synapses, and may thus provide a structural correlate of altered cognitive functions when this memory-associated molecule is mutated.
Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 02/2015; 9:13. DOI:10.3389/fnana.2015.00013 · 3.54 Impact Factor
"As an underlying mechanism for off-line learning and memory formation LTP-like processes in M1 are discussed. LTP involves a cascade of processes over time, which can increase the efficacy of existing synapses and promote the formation of new synapses . Accordingly, LTP-like processes are thought to continue after training, thus stabilizing the memory traces of the newly learned task. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine whether afferent stimulation of hand muscles has a facilitating effect on motor performance, learning and cortical excitability, healthy subjects were trained on the grooved pegboard test (GTP) while wearing a mesh glove (MG) with incorporated electrical stimulation. Three study groups (N=12) were compared in a between subjects design, the bare handed (BH), gloved (MG) and gloved with electrical stimulation (MGS) groups. Motor performance was assessed by the GPT completion time across 4 training blocks, and further one block was retested 7 days later to determine the off-line effects. On-line learning was obtained by normalizing the completion time values to the first training block, and off-line learning was obtained by normalizing the retest values to the last training block. Cortical excitability was assessed via single and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) at pre-training, post-training and 30min post-training. Motor evoked potential recruitment curve, short-latency intracortical inhibition and intracortical facilitation were estimated from the TMS assessments. Motor performance across all 4 training blocks was poor in the MG and MGS groups, while on-line learning was not affected by wearing the glove or by afferent stimulation. However, off-line learning, tested 7 days after training, was improved in the MGS group compared to the MG group. In addition, post-training corticospinal excitability was increased in the MGS group. It can be concluded that afferent stimulation improves off-line learning and thus has a positive effect on motor memory, likely due to LTP-like cortical plasticity in the consolidation phase.
Behavioural Brain Research 05/2014; 270. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.05.014 · 3.03 Impact Factor
"The formation of entirely new connections between L2/3 pyramidal neurons is facilitated by the increase in turnover of dendritic spines induced by whisker trimming (Trachtenberg et al. 2002). New synapses require approximately 1 day before they are functional (Nagerl et al. 2007). Hence, new multisynaptic connections between L2/3 pyramidal neurons can be formed within a few days as our recordings found. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mature neocortex adapts to altered sensory input by changing neural activity in cortical circuits. The underlying cellular mechanisms remain unclear. We used blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show reorganization in somatosensory cortex elicited by altered whisker sensory input. We found that there was rapid expansion followed by retraction of whisker cortical maps. The cellular basis for the reorganization in primary somatosensory cortex was investigated with paired electrophysiological recordings in the periphery of the expanded whisker representation. During map expansion, the chance of finding a monosynaptic connection between pairs of pyramidal neurons increased 3-fold. Despite the rapid increase in local excitatory connectivity, the average strength and synaptic dynamics did not change, which suggests that new excitatory connections rapidly acquire the properties of established excitatory connections. During map retraction, entire excitatory connections between pyramidal neurons were lost. In contrast, connectivity between pyramidal neurons and fast spiking interneurons was unchanged. Hence, the changes in local excitatory connectivity did not occur in all circuits involving pyramidal neurons. Our data show that pyramidal neurons are recruited to and eliminated from local excitatory networks over days. These findings suggest that the local excitatory connectome is dynamic in mature neocortex.
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