In the mammalian CNS, long term potentiation can be induced by repeatedly pairing presynaptic stimulation with postsynaptic depolarization of a single cell, similar to a model proposed by Hebb, that synaptic strengthening occurs as a result of correlated pre- and postsynaptic activity. However, our experiments indicate that the Hebbian rule is not strictly valid in the cortex. Double intracellular recordings showed that synaptic reinforcement is not confined to the depolarized postsynaptic neuron, but is also observed in adjacent but not coactivated neurons. The enhancement and its spread is stimulus-specific, it occurs only for fibres stimulated during the pairing procedure. During development, this spread might lead to a characteristic organizing principle of the cortex, the clustering of cells with similar functional properties.