In cognitive memory, long-term potentiation (LTP) has been shown to occur when presynaptic and postsynaptic activities are highly correlated and glucocorticoid concentrations are in an optimal (i.e., low normal) range. In all other conditions, LTP is attenuated or even long-term depression (LTD) occurs. In this paper, we focus on NMDA receptor (NMDA-R)-dependent LTP and LTD, two processes involving various molecular mechanisms. To understand which of these mechanisms are indispensable for explaining the experimental evidence reported in the literature, we here propose a parsimonious model of NMDA-R-dependent synaptic plasticity. Central to this model are two processes. First, AMPA receptor-subunit trafficking; and second, glucocorticoid-dependent modifications of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-receptor system. In 2008, we have published a core model, which contained the first process, while in the current paper we present an extended model, which also includes the second process. Using the extended model, we could show that stress attenuates LTP, while it enhances LTD. These simulation results are in agreement with experimental findings from other labs. In 2013, surprising experimental evidence showed that the GluA1 C-tail is unnecessary for LTP. When using our core model in its original form, our simulations already predicted that there would be no requirement for the GluA1 C-tail for LTP, allowing to eliminate a redundant mechanism from our model. In summary, we present a mathematical model that displays reduced complexity and is useful for explaining when and how LTP or LTD occurs at synapses during cognitive memory formation.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)