Journal of Neurophysiology

Stereotypical changes in the pattern and duration of long-term potentiation expressed at postnatal days 11 and 15 in the rat hippocampus

P. S. Jackson, T. Suppes, K. M. Harris


1. Extracellular recordings from hippocampal area CA1 lasting 2-8 h posttetanus were used to evaluate the duration of long-term potentiation (LTP) at two key developmental ages. 2. At day 11 LTP consistently endured for approximately 1 h before declining to baseline by 2.5 h posttetanus. The response could then be repotentiated, and in some cases, the repotentiation lasted longer than the original potentiation. 3. At day 15 two patterns of potentiation were observed. The first pattern was similar to that observed at day 11 in that the potentiation did not persist; however, it did endure for approximately 2-2.5 h before declining to baseline by 4 h posttetanus. In the second pattern the potentiation persisted indefinitely; these responses were monitored for 6-8 h posttetanus. 4. These patterns are similar to the temporal phases of LTP that have been revealed in adult rat hippocampus through pharmacological manipulations. They may reflect developmental changes during which the different cellular mechanisms underlying LTP become sequentially activated. 5. These findings are important for several reasons. First, because the different temporal phases of LTP seem to be added stepwise during development, animals of different ages could be used explicitly to elucidate the underlying cellular mechanisms of these phases in LTP. Second, because LTP is a candidate mechanism for some forms of learning and memory, these results have implications for sequential steps in the ontogeny of learning and memory. Finally, because studies of LTP have used animals of widely varying ages, including these two ages, it is important to consider whether differences in the developmental properties of LTP could influence experimental observations.