7 May 2009

Synaptic Learning in Marieb & Hoehn, Human Anatomy & Physiology

by Corry Shores
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Marieb & Hoehn

Human Anatomy & Physiology

Synaptic Potentiation

Repeated or continuous use of a synapse (even for short periods) enhances the presynaptic neuron's ability to excite the postsynaptic neuron, producing larger-than-expected postsynaptic potentials. This phenomenon is called synaptic potentiation. The presynaptic terminals at such synapses contain relatively high Ca2+ concentrations, a condition that (presumably) triggers the release of more neurotransmitter, which in turn produces larger EPSPs. (412d)
Synaptic potentiation can be viewed as a learning process that increases the efficiency of neurotransmission along a particular pathway. Indeed, the hippocampus of the brain, which plays a special role in memory and learning, exhibits an important type of synaptic plasticity called long-term potentiation (LTP). (413d)

Marieb, Elaine N., & Katja Hoehn. Human Anatomy & Physiology. London: Pearson, 2007.

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