NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are ionotropic glutamatergic receptors. Compared to AMPA receptors, these have a much slower kinetics of activation. A unique feature of NMDA receptors is their sensitivity to a Mg2+ block. The Mg2+ block is voltage-dependent, being relieved when the neuron is depolarized. The necessity of concomitant presynaptic (release of glutamate) and postsynaptic (depolarization) activities makes the NMDA receptors coincidence detectors. In addition, they are highly permeable to calcium ions, which are important mediators of different metabolic cascades. These properties are important for their role in synaptic plasticity and activity-dependent development. [Animation by Pete Bilderback]

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