Synaptic plasticity: Multiple forms, functions, and mechanisms

Ami Citri, Robert C. Malenka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1218 Scopus citations


Experiences, whether they be learning in a classroom, a stressful event, or ingestion of a psychoactive substance, impact the brain by modifying the activity and organization of specific neural circuitry. A major mechanism by which the neural activity generated by an experience modifies brain function is via modifications of synaptic transmission; that is, synaptic plasticity. Here, we review current understanding of the mechanisms of the major forms of synaptic plasticity at excitatory synapses in the mammalian brain. We also provide examples of the possible developmental and behavioral functions of synaptic plasticity and how maladaptive synaptic plasticity may contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)18-41
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
RM gratefully acknowledges support from NIMH, NIDA, NINDS, and NARSAD. AC acknowledges the support of the The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization. We apologize to those colleagues whose work was not cited because of the large scope of this review and severe space limitations.


  • AMPA receptors
  • Addiction
  • Hippocampus
  • Long-term depression
  • Long-term potentiation
  • NMDA receptors


Dive into the research topics of 'Synaptic plasticity: Multiple forms, functions, and mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this