Neuroscientific and basic neuropsychological research about changes in the brain that occur as a result of learning are topical areas of novel technologies and rapid developments. The new April 2005 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience includes a free download of the full text of a review article about these developments:
Segal, M. (2005). Dendritic spines and long-term plasticity. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6, 277-284. [doi:10.1038/nrn1649]
Department of Neurobiology, The Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, 76100 Israel.
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A recent flurry of time-lapse imaging studies of live neurons have tried to address the century-old question: what morphological changes in dendritic spines can be related to long-term memory? Changes that have been proposed to relate to memory include the formation of new spines, the enlargement of spine heads and the pruning of spines. These observations also relate to a more general question of how stable dendritic spines are. The objective of this review is to critically assess the new data and to propose much needed criteria that relate spines to memory, thereby allowing progress in understanding the morphological basis of memory.