STDP balance and morphology influences the appearance of the dendritic mosaic

Neurons can simultaneously adapt their information processing capabilities, including their input and output characteristics. Their ability for such changes ultimately relies on understanding how the interplay between synaptic plasticity, the location of the synapse, and the nonlinear nature of electrical conduction of the dendrite’s membrane shapes both the strengths and spatial arrangements of convergent afferent inputs to neuronal dendrites. Recent studies support the formation of memory traces or engrams via the clustered plasticity model, a view that synaptic plasticity promotes the formation of clusters or hotspots of functional synapses. Our previous studies have illustrated that spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) can lead to synaptic efficacies being arranged into spatially segregated clusters across the dendrite, which we have called a dendritic mosaic. We have found that the formation and refinement of the dendritic mosaic can be influenced by both the balance between the amount of depression and potentiation admitted by the temporal learning window describing STDP, and recently dendritic morphology also has a role to play.