The coordinated activity of large numbers of adjacent parallel fiber synapses elevate calcium concentration locally in small regions of Purkinje cell dendrites. Such activity has also been reported to produce long-term depression of parallel fiber synaptic transmission. We have examined the relationship between these two events by combining patch clamp measurements of parallel fiber synaptic transmission with confocal microscopic imaging of the local calcium signals. We find that patterns of parallel fiber activity capable of evoking long-term depression invariably cause increases in Purkinje cell calcium concentration that are very spatially restricted. These results suggest that one function of the local dendritic calcium signals is to induce long-term depression of parallel fiber synapses.
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