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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011, Article ID 254724, 9 pages
Review Article

The Many Forms and Functions of Long Term Plasticity at GABAergic Synapses

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, State University of New York (SUNY), Life Science Building Rm 546, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA

Received 11 February 2011; Revised 22 March 2011; Accepted 23 May 2011

Academic Editor: Bjorn Kampa

Copyright © 2011 Arianna Maffei. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


On February 12th 1973, Bliss and Lomo submitted their findings on activity-dependent plasticity of glutamatergic synapses. After this groundbreaking discovery, long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) gained center stage in the study of learning, memory, and experience-dependent refinement of neural circuits. While LTP and LTD are extensively studied and their relevance to brain function is widely accepted, new experimental and theoretical work recently demonstrates that brain development and function relies on additional forms of plasticity, some of which occur at nonglutamatergic synapses. The strength of GABAergic synapses is modulated by activity, and new functions for inhibitory synaptic plasticity are emerging. Together with excitatory neurons, inhibitory neurons shape the excitability and dynamic range of neural circuits. Thus, the understanding of inhibitory synaptic plasticity is crucial to fully comprehend the physiology of brain circuits. Here, I will review recent findings about plasticity at GABAergic synapses and discuss how it may contribute to circuit function.