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October, 2006
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N-Methylaspartate: An amino acid that, as the D-isomer, is the defining agonist for the Nmda receptor subtype of glutamate receptors (Receptors, Nmda).

Long-term Potentiation

JoVE 10846

Long-term potentiation, or LTP, is one of the ways by which synaptic plasticity—changes in the strength of chemical synapses—can occur in the brain. LTP is the process of synaptic strengthening that occurs over time between pre- and postsynaptic neuronal connections. The synaptic strengthening of LTP works in opposition to the synaptic weakening of long-term depression (LTD) and together are the main mechanisms that underlie learning and memory. LTP can occur when presynaptic neurons repeatedly fire and stimulate the postsynaptic neuron. This is called Hebbian LTP since it follows from Donald Hebb’s 1949 postulate that “neurons that fire together wire together.” The repeated stimulation from presynaptic neurons induces changes in the type and number of ion channels in the postsynaptic membrane. Two types of postsynaptic receptors of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate are involved in LTP: 1) N-methyl-D-aspartate or NMDA receptors and 2) α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid or AMPA receptors. Although NMDA receptors open upon glutamate binding, their pore is usually blocked by magnesium ions that prevent other positively charged ions from entering the neuron. However, glutamate released from presynaptic neurons can bind to postsynaptic AMPA receptors, causing an influx of sodium ions that results

 Core: Biology

Ion Channels

JoVE 10722

Ion channels maintain the membrane potential of a cell. For most cells, especially excitable ones, the inside has a more negative charge than the outside of the cell, due to a greater number of negative ions than positive ions. For excitable cells, like firing neurons, contracting muscle cells, or sensory touch cells, the membrane potential must be able to change rapidly moving from a negative membrane potential to one that is more positive. To achieve this, cells rely on two types of ion channels: ligand-gated and voltage-gated. Ligand-gated ion channels, also called ionotropic receptors, are transmembrane proteins that form a channel but which also have a binding site. When a ligand binds to the surface, it opens the ion channel. Common ionotropic receptors include the NMDA, kainate, and AMPA glutamate receptors and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. While the majority of ionotropic receptors are activated by extracellular binding of neurotransmitters such as glutamate or acetylcholine, a few can be intracellularly activated by ions themselves. When a ligand, like glutamate or acetylcholine, binds to its receptor it allows the influx of sodium (Na+) and calcium (Ca2+) ions into the cells. The positive ions, or cations, follow down their electrochemical gradient, moving from the more positive extracellular surface to the less p

 Core: Biology

Long-term Depression

JoVE 10847

Long-term depression, or LTD, is one of the ways by which synaptic plasticity—changes in the strength of chemical synapses—can occur in the brain. LTD is the process of synaptic weakening that occurs over time between pre and postsynaptic neuronal connections. The synaptic weakening of LTD works in opposition to synaptic strengthening by long-term potentiation (LTP) and together are the main mechanisms that underlie learning and memory. If over time, all synapses are maximally strengthened through LTP or some other mechanism, the brain would plateau in efficiency making learning and forming new memories difficult. LTD is a way to prune weaker synapses thereby freeing up resources and putting flexibility back into the central nervous system. One mechanism by which LTD occurs depends on the number of calcium ions in the postsynaptic neuron after presynaptic stimulation. Infrequent or low levels of presynaptic stimulation lead to low calcium ion influx and consequently, low calcium ion concentration in the postsynaptic neuron. The low calcium ion concentration initiates a signaling cascade that culminates in the endocytosis or removal of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) glutamate receptors from the plasma membrane. As a result, the postsynaptic response to the same sporadic presynaptic stimulation is further wea

 Core: Biology

Stereotaxic Surgery for Excitotoxic Lesion of Specific Brain Areas in the Adult Rat

1Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley, 2Office of Laboratory Animal Care, University of California Berkeley, 3McGovern Institute for Brain Research & The Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 4Integrative Biology Department, University of California Berkeley

JoVE 4079


Recording Brain Electromagnetic Activity During the Administration of the Gaseous Anesthetic Agents Xenon and Nitrous Oxide in Healthy Volunteers

1Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, 2Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management, St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, 3Brain and Psychological Science Research Centre, Swinburne University of Technology, 4Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Auckland

JoVE 56881

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