The roles of STP and LTP in synaptic encoding.
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Long-term potentiation (LTP), a cellular model of learning and memory, is generally regarded as a unitary phenomenon that alters the strength of synaptic transmission by increasing the postsynaptic response to the release of a quantum of neurotransmitter. LTP, at CA3-CA1 synapses in the hippocampus, contains a stimulation-labile phase of short-term potentiation (STP, or transient LTP, t-LTP) that decays into stable LTP. By studying the responses of populations of neurons to brief bursts of high-frequency afferent stimulation before and after the induction of LTP, we found that synaptic responses during bursts are potentiated equally during LTP but not during STP. We show that STP modulates the frequency response of synaptic transmission whereas LTP preserves the fidelity. Thus, STP and LTP have different functional consequences for the transfer of synaptic information.