SHORT-TERM SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY AT THE FROG NEUROMUSCULAR JUNCTION: AN INTEGRATIVE PHYSIOLGICAL STUDY

Rich Manalis, Adjunct Professor of Biology, Goshen College

My research pertains to an integrative physiological approach to the study of SHORT-TERM SYNAPTIC EFFICACY using the frog sciatic nerve/gastrocnemius preparation.  The essence of my findings is illustrated in the following graph:

facilitation & depression

In the above graph, the sciatic nerve was stimulated five times with identical dual-pulses; each dual-pulse consisted of a conditioning stimulus followed 120 ms later by a test stimulus.  The conditioning twitches decreased during the stimulus train; this is called depression.  On the other hand, the test twitches increased during the train; this is called facilitation.  Both depression and facilitation are important examples of changes in synaptic efficacy.

What follows are two questions for your consideration:

  1.  Explain how the measurement of muscle twitches can provide meaningful information with respect to short-term synaptic efficacy.
  2.  Compare and contrast changes in synaptic efficacy measured from the frog sciatic nerve/gastrocnemius preparation with those measured from a hippocampus brain slice, which is the preparation in which LONG-TERM POTENTIATION is studied.
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