Spike timing–dependent plasticity (STDP) as a Hebbian synaptic learning rule has been demonstrated in various neural circuits over a wide spectrum of species, from insects to humans. The dependence of synaptic modification on the order of pre- and postsynaptic spiking within a critical window of tens of milliseconds has profound functional implications. Over the past decade, significant progress has been made in understanding the cellular mechanisms of STDP at both excitatory and inhibitory synapses and of the associated changes in neuronal excitability and synaptic integration. Beyond the basic asymmetric window, recent studies have also revealed several layers of complexity in STDP, including its dependence on dendritic location, the nonlinear integration of synaptic modification induced by complex spike trains, and the modulation of STDP by inhibitory and neuromodulatory inputs. Finally, the functional consequences of STDP have been examined directly in an increasing number of neural circuits in vivo.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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