Dendritic spines shaped by synaptic activity

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2000 Oct;10(5):582-6. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(00)00123-9.


A recent series of exciting observations, using novel high-resolution time-lapse imaging of living cells, has provoked a major shift in our understanding of the dendritic spine, from a stable storage site of long-term memory to a dynamic structure that undergoes rapid morphological variations. Through these recent observations, the molecular mechanisms underlying spine plasticity are beginning to emerge. A common mechanism involving changes in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration may control both the formation/elongation and the pruning/retraction of spines. Spine motility may be instrumental in the formation of synapses, may contribute to the anchoring/removing of glutamate receptors at spine heads, and may control the efficacy of existing synapses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology