Functional and dysfunctional synaptic plasticity in prefrontal cortex: roles in psychiatric disorders

Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Feb 1;67(3):199-207. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.026. Epub 2009 Oct 14.


Prefrontal cortex (PFC) mediates an assortment of cognitive functions including working memory, behavioral flexibility, attention, and future planning. Unlike the hippocampus, where induction of synaptic plasticity in the network is well-documented in relation to long-term memory, cognitive functions mediated by the PFC have been thought to be independent of long-lasting neuronal adaptation of the network. Nonetheless, accumulating evidence suggests that prefrontal cortical neurons possess the cellular machinery of synaptic plasticity and exhibit lasting changes of neural activity associated with various cognitive processes. Moreover, deficits in the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity induction in the PFC might be involved in the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, drug addiction, mood disorders, and Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / pathology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Dopamine