Hippocampal neurons show different types of short-term plasticity (STP). Some exhibit facilitation of their synaptic responses and others depression. In this review we discuss presynaptic biophysical properties behind heterogeneity in STP in hippocampal neurons such as alterations in vesicle priming and docking, fusion, neurotransmitter filling and vesicle replenishment. We look into what types of information electrophysiology, imaging and mechanistic models have given about the time scales and relative impact of the different properties on STP with an emphasis on the use of mechanistic models as complementary tools to experimental procedures. Taken together this tells us that it is possible for a multitude of different mechanisms to underlie the same STP pattern, even though some are more important in specific cases, and that mechanistic models can be used to integrate the biophysical properties to see which mechanisms are more important in specific cases of STP.
Keywords: biophysical models; electrophysiology; hippocampal neurons; imaging; short-term plasticity; vesicle dynamics.