Infographic: A New Model of Synapse Strength

Synapses in the mouse neocortex can release multiple packages of neurotransmitters, suggesting that connection strength is more flexible than previously thought.

asher jones
Asher Jones

Asher is a former editorial intern at The Scientist. She completed a PhD in entomology from Penn State University, and she was a 2020 AAAS Mass Media Fellow at...

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By monitoring changes in voltage (graphs) in individual neurons in the mouse neocortex, researchers measured the strength of connections between a presynaptic neuron’s axon terminal (purple) and the postsynaptic neuron’s dendrite (beige). In contrast to the widely accepted notion that neocortical synapses can only release one neurotransmitter-filled vesicle per firing, the research team found evidence that multiple vesicles can be released at these synapses, indicating that their strength is more plastic than previously appreciated. The researchers also confirmed the widely held assumption that physically larger synapses are stronger.


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