In excitatory synapses of the brain, specific receptors in the postsynaptic membrane lie ready to respond to the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate from the presynaptic terminal. Upon stimulation, these glutamate receptors activate multiple biochemical pathways that transduce signals into the postsynaptic neuron. Different kinds of synaptic activity elicit different patterns of postsynaptic signals that lead to short- or long-lasting strengthening or weakening of synaptic transmission. The complex molecular mechanisms that underlie postsynaptic signaling and plasticity are beginning to emerge.
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