For more than 60 years, acquired learning abilities have been assumed to be stored in the form of functional and/or structural changes in synaptic efficiency. Although there are many excellent studies in vitro of the electrophysiological processes and molecular events supporting activity-dependent synaptic changes, not much information is available on synaptic changes in strength during actual learning in behaving animals. Dr Delgado-Garcia and his research team have shown that classical conditioning of eyelid responses in behaving mice increased the synaptic strength of the hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapse. He describes technical procedures used to study the firing and synaptic activities of selected brain sites during different types of associative learning tasks. He states that long-term potentiation evoked experimentally in laboratory animals shares some synaptic properties and molecular mechanisms with learning-dependent changes in synaptic strength. Synaptic changes evoked by learning can be modified by environmental, social, and emotional factors, as well as by drugs and putative dietary ingredients.
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