Heterosynaptic Plasticity: Multiple Mechanisms and Multiple Roles. Chistiakova M1, Bannon NM, Bazhenov M, Volgushev M. Neuroscientist. 2014 Apr 11.

Plasticity is a universal property of synapses. It is expressed in a variety of forms mediated by a multitude of mechanisms. Here we consider two broad kinds of plasticity that differ in their requirement for presynaptic activity during the induction. Homosynaptic plasticity occurs at synapses that were active during the induction. It is also called input specific or associative, and it is governed by Hebbian-type learning rules. Heterosynaptic plasticity can be induced by episodes of strong postsynaptic activity also at synapses that were not active during the induction, thus making any synapse at a cell a target to heterosynaptic changes. Both forms can be induced by typical protocols used for plasticity induction and operate on the same time scales but have differential computational properties and play different roles in learning systems. Homosynaptic plasticity mediates associative modifications of synaptic weights. Heterosynaptic plasticity counteracts runaway dynamics introduced by Hebbian-type rules and balances synaptic changes. It provides learning systems with stability and enhances synaptic competition. We conclude that homosynaptic and heterosynaptic plasticity represent complementary properties of modifiable synapses, and both are necessary for normal operation of neural systems with plastic synapses.