Stress, hippocampal plasticity, and spatial learning

Synapse. 2001 Jun 1;40(3):180-3. doi: 10.1002/syn.1040.


During the last two decades numerous studies have been conducted in an attempt to correlate the mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP) of hippocampal synaptic transmission with those required for spatial memory formation in the hippocampus. Because stressful events block the induction of hippocampal LTP, it has been suggested that deficits in spatial learning following stress may be related to suppression of LTP-like phenomena in the hippocampus. Here I review these studies and discuss them in light of the emerging view that stress may induce changes in thresholds for synaptic plasticity necessary for both LTP induction and spatial memory formation. This phenomenon, known as metaplasticity, may involve a glucocorticoid modulation of calcium homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological / complications*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Glucocorticoids