Properties of nerve cells that are responsible for learning and memory. Recent advances in the understanding of neurophysiological, biochemical and structural processes relevant to neural plasticity in adult animals. Emphasis on a few selected model systems involving both vertebrate and invertebrate species.
Topics to be covered include the following:
1) Electrophysiology of synaptic plasticity, principally long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD). Events that induce synaptic modifications; hebbian synapses; mechanisms that change synaptic strength; metaplasticity.
2) Intracellular signaling pathways. Ions, kinases, transcription factors and other molecules that mediate changes in synaptic transmission.
3) Memory consolidation and reconsolidation. Why some memories quickly fade and other memories can last a lifetime. Gene expression; receptor trafficking
4) Morphological plasticity. Do memories require the growth of existing synapses, the generation of new synapses, changes in dendritic structure or the appearance of new neurons?
5) Specificity of learning. How certain synapses can be modified by stimuli while other synapses on the same postsynaptic cell remain unaffected.
6) Memory deficits, memory changes and memory enhancement; commercial and medical applications.