Silent synapses and the emergence of a postsynaptic mechanism for LTP

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Nov;9(11):813-25. doi: 10.1038/nrn2501. Epub 2008 Oct 15.


Silent synapses abound in the young brain, representing an early step in the pathway of experience-dependent synaptic development. Discovered amidst the debate over whether long-term potentiation reflects a presynaptic or a postsynaptic modification, silent synapses--which in the hippocampal CA1 subfield are characterized by the presence of NMDA receptors but not AMPA receptors--have stirred some mechanistic controversy of their own. Out of this literature has emerged a model for synapse unsilencing that highlights the central role for postsynaptic AMPA-receptor trafficking in the expression of excitatory synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Synapses / genetics
  • Synapses / metabolism*