Can NMDA Spikes Dictate Computations of Local Networks and Behavior?

Front Mol Neurosci. 2019 Sep 27:12:238. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00238. eCollection 2019.


Intelligence is the ability to learn appropriate responses to stimuli and the capacity to master new skills. Synaptic integration at the dendritic level is thought to be essential for this ability through linear and non-linear processing, by allowing neurons to be tuned to relevant information and to maximize adaptive behavior. Showing that dendrites are able to generate local computations that influence how animals perceive the world, form a new memory or learn a new skill was a break-through in neuroscience, since in the past they were seen as passive elements of the neurons, just funneling information to the soma. Here, we provide an overview of the role of dendritic integration in improving the neuronal network and behavioral performance. We focus on how NMDA spikes are generated and their role in neuronal computation for optimal behavioral output based on recent in vivo studies on rodents.

Keywords: behavior and cognition; dendritic integration; dendritic spikes; neuronal network; synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review