Abolition of Long-Term Stability of New Hippocampal Place Cell Maps by NMDA Receptor Blockade

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Science  26 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5372, pp. 2121-2126
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5372.2121

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Hippocampal pyramidal cells are called place cells because each cell tends to fire only when the animal is in a particular part of the environment—the cell's firing field. Acute pharmacological blockade of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors was used to investigate how NMDA-based synaptic plasticity participates in the formation and maintenance of the firing fields. The results suggest that the formation and short-term stability of firing fields in a new environment involve plasticity that is independent of NMDA receptor activation. By contrast, the long-term stabilization of newly established firing fields required normal NMDA receptor function and, therefore, may be related to other NMDA-dependent processes such as long-term potentiation and spatial learning.

  • * Present address: Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 722 West 168 Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: bob{at}

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