Synaptic remodeling, synaptic growth and the storage of long-term memory in Aplysia

Prog Brain Res. 2008;169:179-98. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00010-6.


Synaptic remodeling and synaptic growth accompany various forms of long-term memory. Storage of the long-term memory for sensitization of the gill-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia has been extensively studied in this respect and is associated with the growth of new synapses by the sensory neurons onto their postsynaptic target neurons. Recent time-lapse imaging studies of living sensory-to-motor neuron synapses in culture have monitored both functional and structural changes simultaneously so as to follow remodeling and growth at the same specific synaptic connections continuously over time and to examine the functional contribution of these learning-related structural changes to the different time-dependent phases of memory storage. Insights provided by these studies suggest the synaptic differentiation and growth induced by learning in the mature nervous system are highly dynamic and often rapid processes that can recruit both molecules and mechanisms used for de novo synapse formation during development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia / physiology*
  • Axonal Transport
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*