Nature Reviews Neuroscience 13, 798-810 (November 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrn3353

OpinionThe BCM theory of synapse modification at 30: interaction of theory with experiment

Leon N Cooper1 & Mark F. Bear2  About the authors


Thirty years have passed since the publication of Elie Bienenstock, Leon Cooper and Paul Munro's 'Theory for the development of neuron selectivity: orientation specificity and binocular interaction in visual cortex', known as the BCM theory of synaptic plasticity. This theory has guided experimentalists to discover some fundamental properties of synaptic plasticity and has provided a mathematical structure that bridges molecular mechanisms and systems-level consequences of learning and memory storage.

Author affiliations

  1. Leon N Cooper is at the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Department of Physics, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.
  2. Mark F. Bear is at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.

Correspondence to: Leon N Cooper1 Email:

Correspondence to: Mark F. Bear2 Email:

Published online 19 October 2012