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Increased Receptor SensitivityIncreased Receptor Sensitivity
In LTP, it is now known that the postsynaptic neuron becomes more sensitive to neurotransmitter in a variety of ways. One way is that phophorylation of the glutamate receptor causes it to pass more excitatory ions upon subsequent stimulation.
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Long-Term PotentiationLong-Term Potentiation
In LTP, neurons continue to fire at an elevated rate, even though the stimulus has returned to normal.
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LTP MechanismsLTP Mechanisms
The two main hypotheses to explain LTP are presynaptic, in which increased neurotransmitter is released; and postsynaptic, in which sensitivity to neurotransmitter is somehow increased.
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Neuronal Stem CellsNeuronal Stem Cells
Fred Gage has found that new neurons are formed in two areas of the brain: the hippocampus (shown in yellow) and in the subventricular zone (in light blue).
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Reward PathwayReward Pathway
The main structures that make up the reward pathway are the ventral tegmental area, the nucleus accumbens (both shown in purple), the amygdala (in green), and the prefrontal cortex (in grey).
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SynapseSynapse
Neurons have two ends — dendrites and an axon — which they use to communicate with one another via neurotransmitters.
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Synaptic VesiclesSynaptic Vesicles
Synaptic vesicles fuse with the presynaptic membrane, freeing neurotransmitter molecules into the synaptic space.
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Images

Action potential movement through an axonAction potential movement through an axon
A cross-section of an axon, with an action potential (AP) moving from left to right. The AP has not yet reached point 4; the membrane there is still at rest. At point 3, positive sodium ions are moving in from the adjacent region, depolarizing the region; the sodium channels are about to open. Point 2 is at the peak of the AP; the sodium channels are open and ions are flowing into the axon. The AP has passed by point 1; the sodium channels are inactivated, and the membrane is hyperpolarized.
AMPA receptor figureAMPA receptor figure
Pictured are many of the molecules that are known to interact with AMPA receptors and play some role in long-term potentiation.
Arcuate nucleus neuronsArcuate nucleus neurons
Neurons of the arcuate nucleus
Chemical structures of dopamine-like drugsChemical structures of dopamine-like drugs
The chemical structures of dopamine, Ritalin, and cocaine are structurally similar: they all bind at the dopamine transporter, affecting reuptake of dopamine.
Cocaine PET scanCocaine PET scan
PET scans of a cocaine user's brain
Confocal neuronConfocal neuron
A reconstruction of a neuron in a brain slice using confocal microscopy
Cortex neuronsCortex neurons
Cortical neurons stained in a slice
Docked 1 vesicleDocked 1 vesicle
Docked vesicles at axons, showing "post-synaptic density"
Dopamine transporterDopamine transporter
Left: Dopamine in the synaptic space binds to dopamine receptors on the post-synaptic cell. Dopamine transporters in the presynaptic membrane take up the dopamine molecules from the synaptic cleft and return them to the presynaptic cell. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of dopamine, leading to molecular changes that contribute to addiction.
Dorsal ganglia cells Dorsal ganglia cells
Sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia
Hippocampal neuron Hippocampal neuron
Double-labeled hippocampal neuron stained with yellow and red fluorescence
Hippocampal neuronsHippocampal neurons
Two hippocampal neurons labeled with green fluorescent protein, viewed with confocal microscopy. Such neurons release and sense glutamate, and engage in long-term potentiation (LTP). Note the synaptic connections between the lateral processes of the two neurons.
Light field of neurons and under fluorescence Light field of neurons and under fluorescence
Neurons under light field and fluorescence microscopy
Locu Ceruleus neuron Locu Ceruleus neuron
Green fluorescent protein labeled neurons in a brain slice of the Locu Ceruleus
MAP2NF neuron photoMAP2NF neuron photo
Light microscopy image of branching neurons with many processes
Methamphetamine PET scan Methamphetamine PET scan
PET brain scans of a methamphetamine user and a control subject
Molecules of LTP 2 Molecules of LTP 2
A schematic figure of the many molecules thought to be involved in long-term potentiation (LTP)
MRI of brainMRI of brain
A colored magnetic resonance image (MRI) of a human adult brain
MRI of brain, side profile MRI of brain, side profile
Multiple labeled neurons Multiple labeled neurons
Multiple labeled neurons in confocal microscopy
Neuron Neuron
Green fluorescent protein stains a hippocampal neuron.
NeuronNeuron
A neuron branching to many processes
Neuron Neuron
The parts of the neuron: information is received by dendrites, and action potentials are sent out from the cell body down the axon to the synaptic terminals.
Neuron AMPA receptor Neuron AMPA receptor
AMPA receptors stained with green fluorescent protein
Neuron CamKII Neuron CamKII
Calcium-calmodulin kinase II (CamKII), an enzyme involved in long-term potentiation, is stained with green fluorescent protein on this hippocampal neuron.
Neuron labeled in vivoNeuron labeled in vivo
Confocal microscopy of a multiple fluorescent-labeled neuron
NeuronsNeurons
Neurons with multiple labeling
Neurons in cultureNeurons in culture
Many neurons growing on a grid surface in culture
New adult neuron formed in brain New adult neuron formed in brain
Confocal microscopy reconstruction shows a newly formed adult neuron.
Pons neurons Pons neurons
Neurons of the pons
SynapseSynapse
Synaptic vesicles fuse with the presynaptic membrane to release neurotransmitter into the synaptic space. Here, they bind with neurotransmitter receptors in the postsynaptic membrane.
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