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Science 300 (5627): 1953-1957

Copyright © 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Reversal and Stabilization of Synaptic Modifications in a Developing Visual System

Qiang Zhou, Huizhong W. Tao, Mu-ming Poo*

Abstract: Persistent synaptic modifications are essential for experience-dependent refinement of developing circuits. However, in the developing Xenopus retinotectal system, activity-induced synaptic modifications were quickly reversed either by subsequent spontaneous activity in the tectum or by exposure to random visual inputs. This reversal depended on the burst spiking and activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate subtype of glutamate receptors. Stabilization of synaptic modifications can be achieved by an appropriately spaced pattern of induction stimuli. These findings underscore the vulnerable nature of activity-induced synaptic modifications in vivo and suggest a temporal constraint on the pattern of visual inputs for effective induction of stable synaptic modifications.

Division of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720–3200, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mpoo{at}

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