Dopaminergic Neuromodulation of Spike Timing Dependent Plasticity in Mature Adult Rodent and Human Cortical Neurons

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Synapses in the cerebral cortex constantly change and this dynamic property regulated by the action of neuromodulators such as dopamine (DA), is essential for reward learning and memory. DA modulates spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), a cellular model of learning and memory, in juvenile rodent cortical neurons. However, it is unknown whether this neuromodulation also occurs at excitatory synapses of cortical neurons in mature adult mice or in humans. Cortical layer V pyramidal neurons were recorded with whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology and an extracellular stimulating electrode was used to induce STDP. DA was either bath-applied or optogenetically released in slices from mice. Classical STDP induction protocols triggered non-hebbian excitatory synaptic depression in the mouse or no plasticity at human cortical synapses. DA reverted long term synaptic depression to baseline in mouse via dopamine 2 type receptors or elicited long term synaptic potentiation in human cortical synapses. Furthermore, when DA was applied during an STDP protocol it depressed presynaptic inhibition in the mouse but not in the human cortex. Thus, DA modulates excitatory synaptic plasticity differently in human vs. mouse cortex. The data strengthens the importance of DA in gating cognition in humans, and may inform on therapeutic interventions to recover brain function from diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number668980
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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