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Synaptic plasticity is widely believed to be the cellular basis of learning and memory. It is influenced by various factors including development, sensory experiences, and brain disorders. Long-term synaptic plasticity is accompanied by protein synthesis and trafficking, leading to structural changes of the synapse. In this review, we focus on the synaptic structural plasticity, which has mainly been studied with in vivo two-photon laser scanning microscopy. We also discuss how a special type of synapses, the multi-contact synapses (including those formed by multi-synaptic boutons and multi-synaptic spines), are associated with experience and learning.

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Changes of synaptic structures associated with learning, memory and diseases

Show Author's information Yang Yang1( )Ju Lu2Yi Zuo2
School of Life Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai 201210, China
Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA


Synaptic plasticity is widely believed to be the cellular basis of learning and memory. It is influenced by various factors including development, sensory experiences, and brain disorders. Long-term synaptic plasticity is accompanied by protein synthesis and trafficking, leading to structural changes of the synapse. In this review, we focus on the synaptic structural plasticity, which has mainly been studied with in vivo two-photon laser scanning microscopy. We also discuss how a special type of synapses, the multi-contact synapses (including those formed by multi-synaptic boutons and multi-synaptic spines), are associated with experience and learning.

Keywords: synaptic plasticity, spine, axonal bouton, sensory deprivation, learning, neurological disease, multi-synaptic bouton, multi-synaptic spine


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Publication history
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Publication history

Received: 05 December 2018
Revised: 25 December 2018
Accepted: 30 December 2018
Published: 02 April 2019
Issue date: December 2018


© The authors 2018


We thank the following funding agencies (Start-up funding from ShanghaiTech University and 2018YFC1005004 to YY, and the National Institute of Health R01MH104227, R01MH109475, R01NS104950 to YZ) to the support of the work.

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