Potentiation at synapses between CA3 and the CA1 pyramidal neurons comprises both transient and sustained phases, commonly referred to as short-term potentiation (STP or transient LTP) and long-term potentiation (LTP), respectively. Here, we utilized four subtype-selective N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonists to investigate whether the induction of STP and LTP is dependent on the activation of different NMDAR subtypes. We find that the induction of LTP involves the activation of NMDARs containing both the GluN2A and the GluN2B subunits. Surprisingly, however, we find that STP can be separated into two components, the major form of which involves activation of NMDARs containing both GluN2B and GluN2D subunits. These data demonstrate that synaptic potentiation at CA1 synapses is more complex than is commonly thought, an observation that has major implications for understanding the role of NMDARs in cognition.
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