Impaired synaptic potentiation processes in the hippocampus of aged, memory-deficient rats

Philip W. Landfield, James L. McGaugh, Gary Lynch

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239 Scopus citations


A series of neurophysiological experiments was performed on the Schaffercommissural system of the hippocampus of aged and young anesthetized Fischer rats. The aged Fischer rats were previously found to exhibit retention performance deficits. No obvious differences were found between aged and young animals in amplitude, latency, stimulation threshold, or wave forms of typical synaptic responses when these were elicited by control (0.3 Hz) stimulation pulses. Further, the temporal curves of facilitation during a paired-pulse series were not different in aged and young animals. However, aged and young synapses showed consistently different responses during repetitive stimulation. Synapses of aged animals were deficient in frequency potentiation processes during 12 Hz stimulation; and the aged animals exhibited a delayed rise of post-tetanic synaptic potentiation following a 5 sec, 100 Hz stimulation train. Moreover, aged synapses 'exhausted' more rapidly during continous 4Hz stimulation. Throughout these studies a biphasic pattern of potentiation was observed during repetitive stimulation (brief potentiation, depression, renewed potentiation). Aged animals were deficient primarily in development of the second phase of potentiation. This pattern suggests an age-related impairment of some secondary process of potentiation. leading to an increased tendency to synaptic depression during and after stimulation. The possibility that the impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity may be related to reported deficient behavioral plasticity in the aged animals is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-101
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 7 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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