Synaptic inputs on dendrites are nonlinearly converted to action potential outputs, yet the spatiotemporal patterns of dendritic activation remain to be elucidated at single-synapse resolution. In rodents, we optically imaged synaptic activities from hundreds of dendritic spines in hippocampal and neocortical pyramidal neurons ex vivo and in vivo. Adjacent spines were frequently synchronized in spontaneously active networks, thereby forming dendritic foci that received locally convergent inputs from presynaptic cell assemblies. This precise subcellular geometry manifested itself during N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor - dependent circuit remodeling. Thus, clustered synaptic plasticity is innately programmed to compartmentalize correlated inputs along dendrites and may reify nonlinear synaptic integration.
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