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Reversal and Stabilization of Synaptic Modifications in a Developing Visual System

Science, 20 June 2003
Vol. 300, Issue 5627, p. 1953-1957
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082212

Reversal and Stabilization of Synaptic Modifications in a Developing Visual System

  1. Qiang Zhou,
  2. Huizhong W. Tao,
  3. Mu-ming Poo*
  1. Division of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720–3200, USA.
  1. * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mpoo{at}


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.

  • Received for publication 9 January 2003.
  • Accepted for publication 30 April 2003.


Q. Zhou, H. W. Tao, and M.-m. Poo, Reversal and Stabilization of Synaptic Modifications in a Developing Visual System. Science 300, 1953-1957 (2003).

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