The role of intracellular calcium stores in synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Aug;37(7):1211-39. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.04.011. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


Memory processing requires tightly controlled signalling cascades, many of which are dependent upon intracellular calcium (Ca(2+)). Despite this, most work investigating calcium signalling in memory formation has focused on plasma membrane channels and extracellular sources of Ca(2+). The intracellular Ca(2+) release channels, ryanodine receptors (RyRs) and inositol (1,4,5)-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) have a significant capacity to regulate intracellular Ca(2+) signalling. Evidence at both cellular and behavioural levels implicates both RyRs and IP3Rs in synaptic plasticity and memory formation. Pharmacobehavioural experiments using young chicks trained on a single-trial discrimination avoidance task have been particularly useful by demonstrating that RyRs and IP3Rs have distinct roles in memory formation. RyR-dependent Ca(2+) release appears to aid the consolidation of labile memory into a persistent long-term memory trace. In contrast, IP3Rs are required during long-term memory. This review discusses various functions for RyRs and IP3Rs in memory processing, including neuro- and glio-transmitter release, dendritic spine remodelling, facilitating vasodilation, and the regulation of gene transcription and dendritic excitability. Altered Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores also has significant implications for neurodegenerative conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / physiology
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel / physiology


  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Ryanodine Receptor Calcium Release Channel