Unified pre- and postsynaptic long-term plasticity enables reliable and flexible learning

Rui P. Costa, Robert C Froemke, Per Jesper Sjöström, M C W Van Rossum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although it is well known that long-term synaptic plasticity can be expressed both pre- and postsynaptically, the functional consequences of this arrangement have remained elusive. We show that spike-timing-dependent plasticity with both pre- and postsynaptic expression develops receptive fields with reduced variability and improved discriminability compared to postsynaptic plasticity alone. These long-term modifications in receptive field statistics match recent sensory perception experiments. Moreover, learning with this form of plasticity leaves a hidden postsynaptic memory trace that enables fast relearning of previously stored information, providing a cellular substrate for memory savings. Our results reveal essential roles for presynaptic plasticity that are missed when only postsynaptic expression of long-term plasticity is considered, and suggest an experience-dependent distribution of pre- and postsynaptic strength changes.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2015


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