Nature Reviews Neuroscience 7, 575-583 (July 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrn1937

OpinionA clustered plasticity model of long-term memory engrams

Arvind Govindarajan1, Raymond J. Kelleher1,2 & Susumu Tonegawa1  About the authors


Long-term memory and its putative synaptic correlates the late phases of both long-term potentiation and long-term depression require enhanced protein synthesis. On the basis of recent data on translation-dependent synaptic plasticity and on the supralinear effect of activation of nearby synapses on action potential generation, we propose a model for the formation of long-term memory engrams at the single neuron level. In this model, which we call clustered plasticity, local translational enhancement, along with synaptic tagging and capture, facilitates the formation of long-term memory engrams through bidirectional synaptic weight changes among synapses within a dendritic branch.

Author affiliations

  1. Arvind Govindarajan, Raymond J. Kelleher and Susumu Tonegawa are at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center, Department of Biology and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
  2. Raymond J. Kelleher is also at the Center for Human Genetic Research and the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Richard B. Simches Research Center, CPZN-6234, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Correspondence to: Susumu Tonegawa1 Email:


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