Dendritic mechanisms controlling spike-timing-dependent synaptic plasticity

Trends Neurosci. 2007 Sep;30(9):456-63. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2007.06.010. Epub 2007 Aug 31.


The ability of neurons to modulate the strength of their synaptic connections has been shown to depend on the relative timing of pre- and postsynaptic action potentials. This form of synaptic plasticity, called spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), has become an attractive model for learning at the single-cell level. Yet, despite its popularity in experimental and theoretical neuroscience, the influence of dendritic mechanisms in the induction of STDP has been largely overlooked. Several recent studies have investigated how active dendritic properties and synapse location within the dendritic tree influence STDP. These studies suggest the existence of learning rules that depend on firing mode and subcellular input location, adding unanticipated complexity to STDP. Here, we propose a new look at STDP that is focused on processing at the postsynaptic site in the dendrites, rather than on spike-timing at the cell body.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*