Prolonged changes in synaptic strength, such as those that occur in LTP and LTD, are thought to contribute to learning and memory processes. These complex phenomena occur in diverse brain structures and use multiple, temporally staged and spatially resolved mechanisms, such as changes in neurotransmitter release, modulation of transmitter receptors, alterations in synaptic structure, and regulation of gene expression and protein synthesis. In the CA1 region of the hippocampus, the combined activation of SRC family tyrosine kinases, protein kinase A, protein kinase C and, in particular, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II results in phosphorylation of glutamate-receptor-gated ion channels and the enhancement of subsequent postsynaptic current. Crosstalk between these complex biochemical pathways can account for most characteristics of early-phase LTP in this region.
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