Emergence of coordinated plasticity in the cochlear nucleus and cerebellum

J Neurosci. 2012 Jun 6;32(23):7862-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0167-12.2012.


Synapses formed by one cell type onto another cell type tend to show characteristic short-term plasticity, which varies from facilitating to depressing depending on the particular system. Within a population of synapses, plasticity can also be variable, and it is unknown how this plasticity is determined on a cell-by-cell level. We have investigated this in the mouse cochlear nucleus, where auditory nerve (AN) fibers contact bushy cells (BCs) at synapses called "endbulbs of Held." Synapses formed by different AN fibers onto one BC had plasticity that was more similar than would be expected at random. Experiments using MK-801 indicated that this resulted in part from similarity in the presynaptic probability of release. The similarity was not present in immature synapses but emerged after the onset of hearing. In addition, the phenomenon occurred at excitatory synapses in the cerebellum. This indicates that postsynaptic cells coordinate the plasticity of their inputs, which suggests that plasticity is of fundamental importance to synaptic function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / drug effects
  • Cerebellum / growth & development*
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cochlear Nerve / drug effects
  • Cochlear Nerve / growth & development*
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology*
  • Dizocilpine Maleate / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Nerve Fibers / drug effects
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Receptors, Presynaptic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Presynaptic / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Receptors, Presynaptic
  • Dizocilpine Maleate