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Rapid Dendritic Morphogenesis in CA1 Hippocampal Dendrites Induced by Synaptic Activity

Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1923-1927
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1923

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Abstract

Activity shapes the structure of neurons and their circuits. Two-photon imaging of CA1 neurons expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein in developing hippocampal slices from rat brains was used to characterize dendritic morphogenesis in response to synaptic activity. High-frequency focal synaptic stimulation induced a period (longer than 30 minutes) of enhanced growth of small filopodia-like protrusions (typically less than 5 micrometers long). Synaptically evoked growth was long-lasting and localized to dendritic regions close (less than 50 micrometers) to the stimulating electrode and was prevented by blockade of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors. Thus, synaptic activation can produce rapid input-specific changes in dendritic structure. Such persistent structural changes could contribute to the development of neural circuitry.

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