Short-term synaptic plasticity as a temporal filter

Trends Neurosci. 2001 Jul;24(7):381-5. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(00)01835-x.


Synaptic efficacy can increase (synaptic facilitation) or decrease (synaptic depression) markedly within milliseconds after the onset of specific temporal patterns of activity. Recent evidence suggests that short-term synaptic depression contributes to low-pass temporal filtering, and can account for a well-known paradox - many low-pass neurons respond vigorously to transients and the onsets of high temporal-frequency stimuli. The use of depression for low-pass filtering, however, is itself a paradox; depression induced by ongoing high-temporal frequency stimuli could preclude desired responses to low-temporal frequency information. This problem can be circumvented, however, by activation of short-term synaptic facilitation that maintains responses to low-temporal frequency information. Such short-term plasticity might also contribute to spatio-temporal processing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*