Opposing Effects of Neuronal Activity on Structural Plasticity

Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
Michael Fauth, Christian Tetzlaff


The connectivity of the brain is continuously adjusted to new environmental influences by several activity-dependent adaptive processes. The most investigated adaptive mechanism is activity-dependent functional or synaptic plasticity regulating the transmission efficacy of existing synapses. Another important but less prominently discussed adaptive process is structural plasticity, which changes the connectivity by the formation and deletion of synapses. In this review, we show, based on experimental evidence, that structural plasticity can be classified similar to synaptic plasticity into two categories: (i) Hebbian structural plasticity, which leads to an increase (decrease) of the number of synapses during phases of high (low) neuronal activity and (ii) homeostatic structural plasticity, which balances these changes by removing and adding synapses. Furthermore, based on experimental and theoretical insights, we argue that each type of structural plasticity fulfills a different function. While Hebbian structural changes enhance memory lifetime, storage capacity, and memory robustness, homeostatic structural plasticity self-organizes the connectivity of the neural network to assure stability. However, the link between function...Continue Reading


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Related Concepts

Biological Neural Networks
Gene Deletion Abnormality
Gene Deletion
Regulation of Synaptic Plasticity
Neuronal Plasticity
Neural Network Simulation

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