Mature granule cells of the dentate gyrus—Passive bystanders or principal performers in hippocampal function?

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Abstract

The dentate gyrus is the main entrance of highly processed information to the hippocampus which derives from associative cortices and it is one of the few privileged areas in the brain where adult neurogenesis occurs. This creates the unique situation that neurons of diverse maturation stages are part of one neuronal network at any given point in life. While recently adult-born cells have a low induction threshold for long-term potentiation several studies suggest that following maturation granule cells are poorly excitable and they exhibit reduced Hebbian synaptic plasticity to an extent that it was even suggested that they functionally retire. Here, we review the functional properties of mature granule cells and discuss how plasticity of intrinsic excitability and alterations in excitation-inhibition balance might impact on their role in hippocampal information processing.

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