Controlling the Ups and Downs of Synaptic Strength

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Science  14 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5673, pp. 973-974
DOI: 10.1126/science.1098805

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Neuroscientists have long been puzzled by the fact that N -methyl--aspartate (NMDA) receptors can both boost and dampen synaptic efficiency in the brain. In their Perspective, Bliss and Schoepfer reveal specific roles for NMDA receptor subtypes. According to new work ( Liu et al.), the NMDA receptor supports either long-term potentiation or long-term depression, depending on whether the receptor contains NR2A or NR2B subunits, respectively.