Genetic analysis of learning behavior-induced structural plasticity

Claire Rampon, Joseph Zhuo Tsien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


It is well-documented that enriched environment and behavioral training can lead to improved learning and memory, as well as structural and morphological changes in the brain. It has been hypothesized that such experience-dependent behavioral improvement results from structural modifications that may represent some forms of possible memory substrates for these behavioral experiences. It was generally assumed until now that, like the activity-dependent structural plasticity observed in the developing brain, behavioral experience-induced structural plasticity would require the activation of the NMDA receptor, a molecular switch for learning and memory. Recent genetic and anatomical analyses reveal that behavioral experience-induced increases in spine and synapse density in the hippocampal CA1 region occur despite the deletion of the NMDA receptor in conditional knockout mice. Recent studies indicate that the molecular mechanism of behavioral experience-induced structural plasticity in the adult brain differs from that of the developing brain, and can be disassociated from the NMDA-mediated long-term potentiation (LTP) phenomenon. Deepening the understanding of the molecular mechanism of experience-induced structural plasticity should facilitate the study of the relationship between structural changes and memory formation. Using an integrated approach with genomic, genetic, and modern histological techniques should move us closer in this direction. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-609
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 23 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendritic spines
  • Enrichment
  • Environment
  • Memory
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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