Neuroscientists have invested considerable effort in attempting to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that mediate short-term and long-term forms of learning and memory. For instance, the discovery of long-term potentiation inspired a field that has produced hundreds of studies examining both early and late forms of long-term potentiation. And at the behavioral level, most neuroscientists investigate either short- or long-term forms of memory or some combination of the two. The general belief that plasticity was restricted to short- and long-term temporal domains lasted for many years because of the apparent continuity of memory and its molecular characterization from one domain to the other. In cellular studies of plasticity, the short-term stage typically lasts in the range of minutes, and requires modification of pre-existing proteins, whereas long-term changes, such as synaptic growth, last for hours to days and require transcription and translation. As both behavioral and cellular studies covered a wider range of temporal domains, from the initiation of brief memory to the expression of long-lasting memory, it was at least tacitly assumed that these studies also captured any intervening domains as well. However, between these two temporal extremes lies a unique form of intermediate-term synaptic plasticity and memory, which mechanistically is a blend of the early and late forms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas