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A synaptically controlled, associative signal for Hebbian plasticity in hippocampal neurons.

J C Magee, D Johnston

Science, 1997 Jan 10 , 275, 209-13

The role of back-propagating dendritic action potentials in the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) was investigated in CA1 neurons by means of dendritic patch recordings and simultaneous calcium imaging. Pairing of subthreshold excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) with back-propagating action potentials resulted in an amplification of dendritic action potentials and evoked calcium influx near the site of synaptic input. This pairing also induced a robust LTP, which was reduced when EPSPs were paired with non-back-propagating action potentials or when stimuli were unpaired. Action potentials thus provide a synaptically controlled, associative signal to the dendrites for Hebbian modifications of synaptic strength.