Stress-induced metaplasticity: From synapses to behavior

M. V. Schmidt, W. C. Abraham, M. Maroun, O. Stork, G. Richter-Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Synaptic plasticity, specifically long-term potentiation and long-term depression, is thought to be the underlying cellular mechanism for learning and memory processes in the brain. About two decades ago a new concept was introduced, namely metaplasticity, which comprises changes that modify the properties of synaptic plasticity due to a priming or preconditioning event. While metaplasticity was initially defined and studied predominantly on a synaptic and cellular level, it soon became apparent that the term could also be very useful to describe plasticity changes on a more global level, including environmental stressors as priming events and altered behavior as outcome measures. We consider here whether it is helpful to conceptualize these latter effects as "behavioral metaplasticity", and in which sense this view fits into the original concept of metaplasticity. By integrating the literature on environmental effects on plasticity, especially stress, plus developmental aspects as well as genetic and epigenetic modifications, we shape the framework in which the term "behavioral metaplasticity" should be considered and discuss research directions that can help to unravel the mechanisms involved in both synaptic and behavioral metaplasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the support of grants from the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden fund and the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand to W.C.A., the support of SFB779 TPB5 to O.S., the German Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP) RI 1922/1-1 HE 1128/16-1, grant to O.S. and G.R.L., a grant by a USAMRMC award (10071009) to G.R.L. and the support of a grant by the Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience (ISAN) at the University of Haifa endowed by the Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF).


  • Cognition
  • LTP
  • Metaplasticity
  • Stress
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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