Anatomical and physiological plasticity of dendritic spines.

  title={Anatomical and physiological plasticity of dendritic spines.},
  author={Veronica A. Alvarez and Bernardo L. Sabatini},
  journal={Annual review of neuroscience},
In excitatory neurons, most glutamatergic synapses are made on the heads of dendritic spines, each of which houses the postsynaptic terminal of a single glutamatergic synapse. We review recent studies demonstrating in vivo that spines are motile and plastic structures whose morphology and lifespan are influenced, even in adult animals, by changes in sensory input. However, most spines that appear in adult animals are transient, and the addition of stable spines and synapses is rare. In vitro… 

Spine plasticity in the motor cortex

Experience-dependent structural synaptic plasticity in the mammalian brain

Recent evidence for structural forms of synaptic plasticity in the mammalian cortex involves cell type-specific structural plasticity: some boutons and dendritic spines appear and disappear, accompanied by synapse formation and elimination, respectively.

Dendritic spine dynamics.

In vivo time-lapse imaging of dendritic spines in the cerebral cortex suggests that, although spines are highly plastic during development, they are remarkably stable in adulthood, and most of them last throughout life.

The role of glutamate in the morphological and physiological development of dendritic spines

The observations favor a model in which filopodia in the developing nervous system sense and respond to release of glutamate from developing axons, resulting in physiological and morphological maturation.

Structural and functional plasticity of dendritic spines – root or result of behavior?

It is likely that structural changes in dendritic spines are both instigators and results of behavioral changes, and improved research tools and methods are needed to experimentally and directly manipulate spine dynamics in order to more empirically delineate the relationship between spine structure and behavior.

Dendritic Spines as Tunable Regulators of Synaptic Signals

Current understanding of the structure and function relationship of dendritic spines is reviewed, focusing on the controversy of electrical compartmentalization and the potential role of spine structural changes in synaptic plasticity.

Balancing structure and function at hippocampal dendritic spines.

Advances in imaging and computing technologies may provide the resources needed to reconstruct entire neural circuits as well as having sufficient resolution to determine the extrinsic factors and the intrinsic factors that are required to build and maintain synapses.

Dendritic spines on GABAergic neurons respond to cholinergic signaling in the Caenorhabditis elegans motor circuit

These studies provide a solid foundation for a new experimental paradigm that exploits the power of C. elegans genetics and live-cell imaging for fundamental studies of dendritic spine morphogenesis and function.



Transient expansion of synaptically connected dendritic spines upon induction of hippocampal long-term potentiation.

It is found that induction of long-term potentiation of synaptic transmission in acute hippocampal slices of adult mice evokes a reliable, transient expansion in spines that are synaptically activated, as determined with calcium imaging.

The function of dendritic spines: devices subserving biochemical rather than electrical compartmentalization

  • C. KochA. Zador
  • Biology
    The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
  • 1993
Experimental data and theoretical models are reviewed with particular emphasis on the putative role of spines in the induction of a cellular model of synaptic plasticity in cortical structures, longterm potentiation (L TP).

Experience-dependent and cell-type-specific spine growth in the neocortex

The data indicate that novel sensory experience drives the stabilization of new spines on subclasses of cortical neurons, which probably underlie experience-dependent remodelling of specific neocortical circuits.

Long-term dendritic spine stability in the adult cortex

It is shown that filopodia-like dendritic protrusions, extending and retracting over hours, are abundant in young animals but virtually absent from the adult, providing a potential structural basis for long-term information storage.

Dynamic Remodeling of Dendritic Arbors in GABAergic Interneurons of Adult Visual Cortex

The first unambiguous evidence (to the authors' knowledge) of dendrite growth and remodeling in adult neurons is shown and it is suggested that circuit rearrangement in the adult cortex is restricted by cell type–specific rules.

Dendritic spine geometry is critical for AMPA receptor expression in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons

Analysis of the spines of CA1 pyramidal neurons reveal that AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid)-type glutamate receptors are abundant in mushroom spines but sparsely distributed in thin spines and filopodia, indicating that distribution of functional AMPA receptors is tightly correlated with spine geometry and that receptor activity is independently regulated at the level of single spines.

Long-term in vivo imaging of experience-dependent synaptic plasticity in adult cortex

The measurements suggest that sensory experience drives the formation and elimination of synapses and that these changes might underlie adaptive remodelling of neural circuits.

Spine growth precedes synapse formation in the adult neocortex in vivo

The data show that spine growth precedes synapse formation and that new synapses form preferentially onto existing boutons, and in some instances, two new spines contacted the same axon.

Activity‐induced changes of spine morphology

The characteristics of these different types of morphological changes are reviewed, with a discussion of the possibility that structural plasticity contributes to changes in synaptic efficacy.