Memory from the dynamics of intrinsic membrane currents

Eve Marder, L. F. Abbott, Gina G. Turrigiano, Zheng Liu, Jorge Golowasch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


Almost all theoretical and experimental studies of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory focus on synaptic efficacy and make the implicit assumption that changes in synaptic efficacy are both necessary and sufficient to account for learning and memory. However, network dynamics depends on the complex interaction between intrinsic membrane properties and synaptic strengths and time courses. Furthermore, neuronal activity itself modifies not only synaptic efficacy but also the intrinsic membrane properties of neurons. This paper presents examples demonstrating that neurons with complex temporal dynamics can provide short-term 'memory' mechanisms that rely solely on intrinsic neuronal properties. Additionally, we discuss the potential role that activity may play in long-term modification of intrinsic neuronal properties. While not replacing synaptic plasticity as a powerful learning mechanism, these examples suggest that memory in networks results from an ongoing interplay between changes in synaptic efficacy and intrinsic membrane properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13481-13486
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 26 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • dynamic clamp
  • neuromodulation
  • neuronal oscillators
  • plateau neurons


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