Long-term depression (LTD) of the synapse formed between cortical pyramidal neurons and striatal medium spiny neurons is central to many theories of motor plasticity and associative learning. The induction of LTD at this synapse is thought to depend upon D 2 dopamine receptors localized in the postsynaptic membrane. If this were true, LTD should be inducible in neurons from only one of the two projection systems of the striatum. Using transgenic mice in which neurons that contribute to these two systems are labeled, we show that this is not the case. Rather, in both cell types, the D 2 receptor dependence of LTD induction reflects the need to lower M 1 muscarinic receptor activity-a goal accomplished by D 2 receptors on cholinergic interneurons. In addition to reconciling discordant tracts of the striatal literature, these findings point to cholinergic interneurons as key mediators of dopamine-dependent striatal plasticity and learning.
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