The historical significance of the discovery of long-term potentiation: an overview and evaluation for nonexperts

Lawrence Patihis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article evaluates, in nontechnical language for those not familiar with neuroscience jargon, the historical significance of Bliss and Lømo's (1973) landmark discovery of long term potentiation (LT P) by establishing precedent context, describing the finding, and then looking at the subsequent decades of LT P research. To set the LT P discovery in context, the article briefly reviews the precedent theories of synaptic information storage and the empirical precedents of frequency potentiation, synaptic facilitation, and the identification of the hippocampal area as being memory related. I then discuss and explain Bliss and Lømo's initial work whereby they found synaptic strengthening that lasted for hours. To better evaluate the importance of their discovery, the article discusses the confirmatory evidence of the decades of LT P research that followed. In this way the article evaluates the replicability, generalizability, and mechanisms behind the phenomena. Perhaps most importantly, I discuss the evidence for LT P being an important mechanism that explains some aspects of learning and memory. The article concludes that at this time Bliss and Lømo's discovery looks to be a profound discovery in the history of science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Volume131
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Hippocampus
  • Long-term potentiation
  • LTP
  • Memory
  • Neural
  • Synaptic plasticity

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