Nonlinear slow-timescale mechanisms in synaptic plasticity

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Learning and memory rely on synapses changing their strengths in response to neural activity. However, there is a substantial gap between the timescales of neural electrical dynamics (1-100 ms) and organism behaviour during learning (seconds-minutes). What mechanisms bridge this timescale gap? What are the implications for theories of brain learning? Here I first cover experimental evidence for slow-timescale factors in plasticity induction. Then I review possible underlying cellular and synaptic mechanisms, and insights from recent computational models that incorporate such slow-timescale variables. I conclude that future progress in understanding brain learning across timescales will require both experimental and computational modelling studies that map out the nonlinearities implemented by both fast and slow plasticity mechanisms at synapses, and crucially, their joint interactions. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number102778
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent opinion in neurobiology
Early online date30 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by grants from the Medical Research Council ( MR / S026630 /1 ), Leverhulme Trust ( RPG-2019-229 ), and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council ( BB/W001845/1 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Brain
  • Synapses
  • Learning
  • Computer Simulation
  • SDG 03: good health and well-being


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