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Homeostatic plasticity

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In Neuroscience, homeostatic plasticity refers to the capacity of neurons to regulate their own excitability relative to network activity, a compensatory adjustment that occurs over the timescale of days.

Homeostatic plasticity is thought to balance Hebbian plasticity by modulating the activity of the synapse or the properties of ion channels. Homeostatic plasticity in neocortical circuits has been studied in depth by Gina Turrigiano and Sacha Nelson (Brandeis University), who first showed in their paper in the journal Nature in 1998 describing a compensatory changes in excitatory post-synaptic currents (mEPSCs) after chronic activity manipulations, (there have been reports of related phenomena circa. 1992). The exact mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are under active investigation.

The term homeostatic plasticity derives from two opposing concepts: ‘homeostatic’ (a product of the Greek words for ‘same’ and ‘state’ or ‘condition’) and plasticity (or 'change'), thus homeostatic plasticity means "staying the same through change."

See also


  • Turrigiano GG, Leslie KR, Desai NS, Rutherford LC and Nelson SB (1998), Activity-dependent scaling of quantal amplitude in neocortical neurons, Nature 391, 892-896


  • Turrigiano GG and Nelson SB (2004), Homeostatic Plasiticity in the Developing Nervous System, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5, 97-107

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