Recent studies on the molecular and cellular basis of learning and memory have brought us closer than ever to understanding the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and their relevance to memory formation. Genetic approaches have played a central role in these new findings because the same mutant mice can be studied with molecular, cellular, circuit, and behavioral tools. Therefore, the results can be used to construct models that cut across levels of analytical complexity, forging connections from the biochemistry of the modified protein to the behavior of the mutant mice. These findings are not only improving our understanding of learning and memory, they are also enriching our understanding of cognitive disorders, such as neurofibromatosis type I. Mechanisms underlying long-term changes in synaptic function are likely to be at the heart of many cognitive and emotional processes in humans. Therefore, molecular and cellular insights into learning and memory undoubtedly will have a profound impact on the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders.