Short-term forms of presynaptic plasticity

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Apr;21(2):269-74. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 Feb 23.


Synapses exhibit several forms of short-term plasticity that play a multitude of computational roles. Short-term depression suppresses neurotransmitter release for hundreds of milliseconds to tens of seconds; facilitation and post-tetanic potentiation lead to synaptic enhancement lasting hundreds of milliseconds to minutes. Recent advances have provided insight into the mechanisms underlying these forms of plasticity. Vesicle depletion, as well as inactivation of both release sites and calcium channels, contribute to synaptic depression. Mechanisms of short-term enhancement include calcium channel facilitation, local depletion of calcium buffers, increases in the probability of release downstream of calcium influx, altered vesicle pool properties, and increases in quantal size. Moreover, there is a growing appreciation of the heterogeneity of vesicles and release sites and how they can contribute to use-dependent plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*


  • Calcium Channels