LTP and excitotoxicity

James Olds olds at helix
Thu Oct 20 11:20:10 EST 1994

Kanning2 (kanning2 at wrote:
: There seems to be a fragile balance among NMDA receptors and there ability
: to either potentiate synaptic efficacy (LTP), possibly by a mechanism
: invoking Nitric Oxide or some sort of other Ca++ related event, and the
: excitotoxic effect brought about as a possible overstimulation of these
: receptors by Glutamate.  I'd be interested in hearing anyone's ideas about
: how the various components of NMDA activation (such as MG++ block, glycine
: modulation, NO, CO, Ca++ second messengers, etc.) may lead to the chronic
: cell death in many neurodegenerative disorders, and also why this might
: have an evolutionary partnership with LTP (memory).  

I have a problem with the underlying assumption here, ie that LTP = memory.
Chuck Stevens held an informal poll at the Learning and Memory conference
at Cold Spring Harbor last week. The question: How many of the attendees
would be willing to bet all their money that in the end (ie when we
understand how memory storage really occurs) LTP will turn out to have
anything to do with it. The result: only about 50% of the neuroscientists
there thought yes. It was very tongue-in-cheek, but the message was clear:
the relationship between the man-made phenomenon we call LTP and real
learning and memory remains to be proven.

Cheers, $set flame=off
Jim Olds;internet: olds at
Laboratory of Adaptive Systems, NINDS, NIH
Room B316A Building 36, 36 Convent Dr. MSC 4007, Bethesda MD. 20892-4007
Telephone: +1 301 402 6079 FAX:+1 301 402-0117
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