Growth Factors Sculpt the Synapse

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Science  28 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5304, pp. 1277-1278
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5304.1277

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The brain's ability to learn and remember is at least partly due to the changing strength of its cell-to-cell connections, the synapses. Growth factors, previously thought to confine their action on synapses to the developing organism, can also change synaptic strength in the adult; an example in the invertebrate Aplysia is reported by Zhang et al. on p. 1318 of this issue. In her Perspective, Schuman discusses how these new results add to what is known about the actions of growth factors in the adult and developing brain.