Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Electrical Synapse Plasticity

Science Signaling  25 Oct 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 196, pp. ec299
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4196ec299

Communication via electrical synapses is an important and fast local mechanism. However, very little is known about use-dependent plasticity in the efficacy and rectification properties of electrical synapses. Haas et al. (see the Perspective by Hestrin) examined gap-junction communication in the reticular nucleus of the thalamus. Induced burst firing in pairs of coupled thalamic reticular nucleus neurons in vitro resulted in long-term depression. The changes in gap-junctional communication were also asymmetric, depending on the strength of the burst. Such modification of electrical synapses resulting from activity in coupled neurons is likely to be a widespread and powerful mechanism for the reorganization of electrically coupled networks.

J. S. Haas, B. Zavala, C. E. Landisman, Activity-dependent long-term depression of electrical synapses. Science 334, 389–393 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

S. Hestrin, The strength of electrical synapses. Science 334, 315–316 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]