Possible Involvement of Neuroexcitatory Amino Acids and Related Peptides in Learning and Memory Processes
Aspartate and glutamate were often considered during the 1950s and 1960s as facilitating learning (Zimmerman and Ross, 1944; Hughes and Zubek, 1956; Wincze and Vogel, 1969). However, no clear explanation on the mechanisms involved was provided. More recently, the hypothesis that glutamate has a role in memory processes was first formulated by Van Harreveld and Fifkova (1974). These authors proposed that neural activity associated with learning experiences provokes glutamate release into the extracellular space which leads to modifications in neuronal permeability to sodium and, as a consequence, to swelling of dendritic spines and facilitation of synaptic transmission. These specific morphological changes would constitute the basis of facilitated neuronal pathways which are supposed to underlie memory storage. Although this hypothesis remains to be tested, there is growing evidence that excitatory amino acid systems could be involved in neuronal synaptic plasticity and thereby might have a predominant role in learning and memory processes.
KeywordsGlutamate Receptor Hippocampal Slice Excitatory Amino Acid Kainic Acid Acidic Amino Acid
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