The next generation of approaches to investigate the link between synaptic plasticity and learning


Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity has since long been proposed to represent the subcellular substrate of learning and memory, one of the most important behavioral processes through which we adapt to our environment. Despite the undisputed importance of synaptic plasticity for brain function, its exact contribution to learning processes in the context of cellular and connectivity modifications remains obscure. Causally bridging synaptic and behavioral modifications indeed remains limited by the available tools to measure and control synaptic strength and plasticity in vivo under behaviorally relevant conditions. After a brief summary of the current state of knowledge of the links between synaptic plasticity and learning, we will review and discuss the available and desired tools to progress in this endeavor.

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Fig. 1: Scheme of the synapse, illustrating key functional and molecular steps that allow observing and acting on SP.
Fig. 2: Schematic showing state-of-the-art strategies allowing specific and acute control of synaptic strength in vivo.


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We acknowledge the critical suggestions of A. Getz, F. Lanore and T. Bienvenu on this manuscript. We express our warmest thanks to the many outstanding members of our teams and collaborators that participated in the elaboration of these concepts. This work is currently supported by funding from the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, ERC Grant #787340 Dyn-Syn-Mem, FRM Grant # DEQ20180339189 AMPA-MO-CO and the Conseil Régional de Nouvelle Aquitaine.

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D.C. and Y.H. generated the concepts, analyzed the bibliography and wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Yann Humeau or Daniel Choquet.

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