Long-Lasting Maintenance of Learning-Induced Enhanced Neuronal Excitability: Mechanisms and Functional Significance

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Pyramidal neurons in the piriform cortex of olfactory discrimination trained rats show enhanced intrinsic neuronal excitability that lasts for several days after learning. Such enhanced intrinsic excitability is mediated by long-term reduction in the postburst after hyperpolarization which is generated by repetitive spike firing. The molecular machinery underlying such long-lasting modulation of intrinsic excitability, as well as its exceptional durability, is yet to be fully described. In this review, we present recent advancements that reveal the identity of the current that is modulated after learning and the second messenger system by which enhanced excitability is maintained. We also discuss the significance of such long-lasting modulation to the local network's sensitivity to noradrenaline, a major learning-relevant neuromodulator.

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