The probability of neurotransmitter release: variability and feedback control at single synapses

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 May;10(5):373-83. doi: 10.1038/nrn2634.


Information transfer at chemical synapses occurs when vesicles fuse with the plasma membrane and release neurotransmitter. This process is stochastic and its likelihood of occurrence is a crucial factor in the regulation of signal propagation in neuronal networks. The reliability of neurotransmitter release can be highly variable: experimental data from electrophysiological, molecular and imaging studies have demonstrated that synaptic terminals can individually set their neurotransmitter release probability dynamically through local feedback regulation. This local tuning of transmission has important implications for current models of single-neuron computation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Probability
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents