Hebb's postulate provided a crucial framework to understand synaptic alterations underlying learning and memory.
Hebb's theory proposed that neurons that fire together, also wire together, which provided the logical framework for the strengthening of synapses. Weakening of synapses was however addressed by "not being strengthened", and it was only later that the active decrease of synaptic strength was introduced through the discovery of long-term depression caused by low frequency stimulation of the presynaptic neuron. In 1994, it was found that the precise relative timing of pre and postynaptic spikes determined not only the magnitude, but also the direction of synaptic alterations when two neurons are active together. Neurons that fire together may therefore not necessarily wire together if the precise timing of the spikes involved are not tighly correlated. In the subsequent 15 years, Spike Timing Dependent Plasticity (STDP) has been found in multiple brain brain regions and in many different species. The size and shape of the time windows in which positive and negative changes can be made vary for different brain regions, but the core principle of spike timing dependent changes remain. A large number of theoretical studies have also been conducted during this period that explore the computational function of this driving principle and STDP algorithms have become the main learning algorithm when modeling neural networks. This Research Topic will bring together all the key experimental and theoretical research on STDP.
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