Predicting not to predict too much: how the cellular machinery of memory anticipates the uncertain future

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 May 12;364(1521):1255-62. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0320.


Although the faculty of memory holds information about the past, it is mostly about the present and the future, because it permits adaptive responses to ongoing events as well as to events yet to come. Since many elements in the future are uncertain, the plasticity machinery that encodes memories in the brain has to operate under the assumption that stored information is likely to require fast and recurrent updating. This assumption is reflected at multiple levels of the brain, including the synaptic and the cellular level. Recent findings cast new light on how combinations of plasticity and metaplasticity mechanisms could permit the brain to balance over time between stability and plasticity of the information stored.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*