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It is widely believed that synaptic plasticity may provide the neural mechanism that underlies certain kinds of learning and memory in the mammalian brain. The expression of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, an experimental model of synaptic plasticity, requires the GluR-A subunit of the AMPA subtype of glutamate receptor. Genetically modified mice lacking the GluR-A subunit show normal acquisition of the standard, fixed-location, hidden-platform watermaze task, a spatial reference memory task that requires the hippocampus. In contrast, these mice are dramatically impaired on hippocampus-dependent, spatial working memory tasks, in which the spatial response of the animal is dependent on information in short-term memory. Taken together, these results argue for two distinct and independent spatial information processing mechanisms: (i) a GluR-A-independent associative learning mechanism through which a particular spatial response is gradually or incrementally strengthened, and which presumably underlies the acquisition of the classic watermaze paradigm and (ii) a GluR-A-dependent, non-associative, short-term memory trace which determines performance on spatial working memory tasks. These results are discussed in terms of Wagner's SOP model (1981).

Original publication




Journal article


Prog Brain Res

Publication Date





159 - 178


Animals, Association Learning, Hippocampus, Memory, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Neuronal Plasticity, Receptors, AMPA