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A1 - "Realistic" Modelling of short term synaptic plasticity in neuronal networks

Erwin Neher and Marc Timme

Synapses in the central nervous system show characteristic phenomena of short-term plasticity (Zucker & Regehr 2002), such as paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) and short-term depression (STP). In contrast, most of current efforts on the modelling of neuronal networks assume constant synaptic strength, apart from the relatively slow changes applied during learning cycles of networks. Some recent modelling studies, however, take into account short term depression and, thereby, reveal interesting dynamic features of neuronal networks (Tsodyks & Markram 1997, Tsodyks et al. 1998, Fuhrmann et al. 2002). From the standpoint of the experimental neurobiologist it seems mandatory that the dynamic aspects of synaptic strength should be considered in more detail since 'real' synapses display dynamic properties, much more complex than those assumed in the dynamic models explored so far. In particular, synapses display characteristic mechanisms of enhanced vesicle recruitment during sustained activities (Stevens & Wesseling 1999), and - in addition - this enhanced recruitment is modulated by second messenger cascades, activated by slow neuromodulators (Sakaba & Neher 2003).

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