Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


How hardwired is the brain?

In a technological breakthrough, two groups have shown that it is possible to study the turnover of spines — tiny protrusions on nerve cells — in live mice. But it's still uncertain just how dynamic the spines are.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: A century of fascination with neuronal spines.


  1. Trachtenberg, J. T. et al. Nature 420, 788–794 (2002).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Grutzendler, J., Kasthuri, N. & Gan, W.-B Nature 420, 812–816 (2002).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Yuste, R. & Denk, W. Nature 375, 682–684 (1995).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Harris, K. M. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 9, 343–348 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Matus, A. Science 290, 754–758 (2000).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Maletic-Savatic, M., Malinow, R. & Svoboda, K. Science 283, 1923–1927 (1999).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Engert, F. & Bonhoeffer, T. Nature 399, 66–70 (1999).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Göppert-Mayer, M. Ann. Phys. 9, 273–294 (1931).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Denk, W. et al. Science 248, 73–76 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Lendval, B., Stern, E. A., Chen, B. & Svoboda, K. Nature 404, 876–881 (2000).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Ramón y Cajal, S. Histologie du Système Nerveux de l'Homme & des Vertébrés (Maloine, Paris, 1911).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ole P. Ottersen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ottersen, O., Helm, P. How hardwired is the brain?. Nature 420, 751–752 (2002).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing