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PSYC430 Synaptic Plasticity Mechanisms

Exploration of synaptic mechanisms of memory formation.

Animals must learn to survive, and the brain is the learning machine that does the job. But how does it do it? In this paper, we investigate the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, with particular emphasis on the physiological, molecular and anatomical mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus and related brain regions. We take a critical look at the evidence regarding the mechanisms underlying Long-term potentiation, and long-term depression, and whether they have the behavioural relevance that is commonly assumed.

Paper title Synaptic Plasticity Mechanisms
Paper code PSYC430
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.0833
Points 10 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $704.22
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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PSYC 474

Entry into Psychology 400-level normally requires a major in Psychology, a B+ average or higher in Psychology 300-level papers, and a pass in PSYC 311 Quantitative Methods. We highly recommend that students have completed PSYC 310 and PSYC 317 or equivalent. Students from other universities must show evidence of an equivalent level of competence.

For Neuroscience students, the prerequisites are met by completion of the requirements for a BSc in Neuroscience with an average grade of at least B+ in 300-level Neuroscience papers.


Teaching staff

Professor Wickliffe Abraham

Paper Structure

The paper covers three key themes:

  • Review of basic neurophysiology and molecular neurobiology
  • Mechanisms of long-term potentiation and long-term depression
  • Behavioural relevance of synaptic plasticity

Textbooks are not required for this paper. Readings will be primary articles and reviews.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to understand, critically assess and discuss both orally and in written form the evidence regarding plasticity mechanisms and their behavioural relevance.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 09:00-11:50 9-14, 17-22