The Saturation Debate

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Science  25 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5385, pp. 1975-1976
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5385.1975

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A question hotly debated in neuroscience concerns the origins of learning: Does long-term potentiation--the enhancement of synaptic function triggered by strong stimulus--represent the neural basis of learning? In his Perspective, Bliss discusses results reported in the same issue by Moser et al. in which the authors have revisited a classic experiment carried out 10 years ago. With strengthened experimental design, Moser et al. used implanted electrodes to saturate the long-term potentiation in rats trained to solve a maze problem. As predicted by the LTP-as-learning hypothesis, the saturated rats did poorly, being unable to learn the maze, in comparison to the control animals.