Spatiotemporal specificity of synaptic plasticity: cellular rules and mechanisms

Biol Cybern. 2002 Dec;87(5-6):319-32. doi: 10.1007/s00422-002-0349-7.


Recent experimental results on spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) and heterosynaptic interaction in various systems have revealed new temporal and spatial properties of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. These results challenge the conventional understanding of Hebb's rule and raise intriguing questions regarding the fundamental processes of cellular signaling. In this article, I review these new findings that lead to formulation of a new set of cellular rules. Emphasis is on evaluating potential molecular and cellular mechanisms that may underlie the spike-timing window of STDP and different patterns of heterosynaptic modifications. I also highlight several unresolved issues, and suggest future lines of research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Calcium