Unified pre- and postsynaptic long-term plasticity enables reliable and flexible learning

Rui Ponte Costa, Robert C Froemke, P Jesper Sjöström, Mark Cw van Rossum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
223 Downloads (Pure)


Although it is well known that long-term synaptic plasticity can be expressed both pre- and postsynaptically, the functional consequences of this arrangement have remained elusive. We show that spike-timing-dependent plasticity with both pre- and postsynaptic expression develops receptive fields with reduced variability and improved discriminability compared to postsynaptic plasticity alone. These long-term modifications in receptive field statistics match recent sensory perception experiments. Moreover, learning with this form of plasticity leaves a hidden postsynaptic memory trace that enables fast relearning of previously stored information, providing a cellular substrate for memory savings. Our results reveal essential roles for presynaptic plasticity that are missed when only postsynaptic expression of long-term plasticity is considered, and suggest an experience-dependent distribution of pre- and postsynaptic strength changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere09457
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2015


  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Learning
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Time Factors


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