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PLOS ONE  2011 

Linking Neuronal Ensembles by Associative Synaptic Plasticity

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020486

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Abstract:

Synchronized activity in ensembles of neurons recruited by excitatory afferents is thought to contribute to the coding information in the brain. However, the mechanisms by which neuronal ensembles are generated and modified are not known. Here we show that in rat hippocampal slices associative synaptic plasticity enables ensembles of neurons to change by incorporating neurons belonging to different ensembles. Associative synaptic plasticity redistributes the composition of different ensembles recruited by distinct inputs such as to specifically increase the similarity between the ensembles. These results show that in the hippocampus, the ensemble of neurons recruited by a given afferent projection is fluid and can be rapidly and persistently modified to specifically include neurons from different ensembles. This linking of ensembles may contribute to the formation of associative memories.

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