Molecular mechanisms of neuronal maturation: a model for synaptic plasticity
The plasticity of the adult nervous system allows it to learn new things and remember them, to adapt to change and to recover from injury. This chapter describes a developmental approach to tackle the technical problem faced in identifying molecular changes underlying plasticity based on the premise that the maturational events of normal brain development offer an experimental model for the study of synaptic plasticity. The many events involved in normal synaptogenesis can be divided into two broad phases: synapse formation and synapse maturation. The postsynaptic density is a protein-rich specialization on the cytoplasmic surface of the postsynaptic membrane at most synapses, irrespective of neurotransmitter type. There is clear evidence from biochemical and morphological studies that, in the forebrain as a whole, synapse formation is still occurring rapidly at hatching and is not complete until about 1–2 weeks post-hatch.
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