Journal of neurophysiology
Spike timing-dependent plasticity in the hippocampus has rarely been studied in vivo. Using extracellular potential and current source density analysis in urethane-anesthetized adult rats, we studied synaptic plasticity at the basal dendritic excitatory synapse in CA1 after excitation-spike (ES) pairing; E was a weak basal dendritic excitation evoked by stratum oriens stimulation, and S was a population spike evoked by stratum radiatum apical dendritic excitation. We hypothesize that positive ES pairing-generating synaptic excitation before a spike-results in long-term potentiation (LTP) while negative ES pairing results in long-term depression (LTD). Pairing (50 pairs at 5 Hz) at ES intervals of -10 to 0 ms resulted in significant input-specific LTP of the basal dendritic excitatory sink, lasting 60-120 min. Pairing at +10- to +20-ms ES intervals, or unpaired 5-Hz stimulation, did not induce significant basal dendritic or apical dendritic LTP or LTD. No basal dendritic LTD was found after stimulation of stratum oriens with 200 pairs of high-intensity pulses at 25-ms interval. Pairing-induced LTP was abolished by pretreatment with an N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist, 3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP), which also reduced spike bursting during 5-Hz pairing. Pairing at 0.5 Hz did not induce spike bursts or basal dendritic LTP. In conclusion, ES pairing at 5 Hz resulted in input-specific basal dendritic LTP at ES intervals of -10 ms to 0 ms but no LTD at ES intervals of -20 to +20 ms. Associative LTP likely occurred because of theta-rhythmic coincidence of subthreshold excitation with a backpropagated spike burst, which are conditions that can occur naturally in the hippocampus.