I was watching a video where a professor said that according to some experiments, Long Term Potentiation (LTP) is correlated with better learning, while in yet other experiments, LTP is correlated with poorer learning.

Are there any models that explain this phenomenon? What's the current theory on this?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what you mean by "LTP is correlated with learning"? Learning is a complex process and synaptic plasticity is certainly a necessary biological process. $\endgroup$ – Memming Feb 15 '14 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ I meant the strengthening of synapses. Some studies show that when synapses strengthen the learning is better, while others show that when they weaken, it is better. (There was no more detail given, but the professor just mentioned that it is an area that is controversial). $\endgroup$ – Joebevo Feb 15 '14 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ the idea that LTP is correlated with learning goes back decades. it would help if you could detail his statements if he had any further info. what is "poorer learning"? iirc LTP incidence is known to be higher in the hippocampus which is correlated with long term memory formation. (re famous patient HM in psychology). also lets remember that the "learning" that is measured in psychology experiments may not be the same as LTP or that maybe humans are still learning stuff that is not measured by the learning tests vs whats expected (ie there is the problem of "false negatives" here). $\endgroup$ – vzn Feb 15 '14 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Joebevo learning may require strengthening, weakening, or both of synapses. It will depend on many things including the learning task, context, which synapses, and so on. $\endgroup$ – Memming Feb 15 '14 at 19:06

I'm going to answer your general inexact question with a general inexact answer. The consensus is that LTP is correlated with learning. To clarify in more detail, studies have shown that when an animal performs a learning task that involves the hippocampus(which is important for memory), and the animal effectively learns, less LTP is seen in-vitro in brain slices from these same animals. LTP is said to be occluded or blocked since potentiation of those synapses have already maximized through the in-vivo mechanisms. This can be interpreted as learning affecting LTP or at least both acting on the same basic mechanisms of the synapse(strengthening and weakening).

See for ex. Learning induces long-term potentiation in the hippocampus.", Jonathan R Whitlock, Science (New York, N.Y.), 2006;313(5790):1093-7

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  • $\begingroup$ I think this needs to be expanded upon to be a useful answer $\endgroup$ – Rory M Feb 24 '14 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ I expanded on this; still not sufficient? $\endgroup$ – V_ix Feb 26 '14 at 4:22

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