Short-term plasticity at the calyx of Held

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 Jan;3(1):53-64. doi: 10.1038/nrn705.


Synapses show widely varying degrees of short-term facilitation and depression. Several mechanisms have been proposed to underlie short-term plasticity, but the contributions of presynaptic mechanisms have been particularly difficult to study because of the small size of synaptic boutons in the mammalian brain. Here we review the functional properties of the calyx of Held, a giant nerve terminal that has shed new light on the general mechanisms that control short-term plasticity. The calyx of Held has also provided fresh insights into the strategies used by synapses to extend their dynamic range of operation and preserve the timing of sensory stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / growth & development
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Calcium