This chapter attempts to synthesize a coherent view of spine function, which takes various aspects of biology into account. It shows that spines appear to be made to maximize connectivity and allow for input-specific synaptic plasticity. The chapter then points out that by enabling input-specific plasticity, spines can provide distributed circuits with the ability to learn and be plastic. Hence, spines can not only make possible the wiring of a distributed circuit, but can also help the accurate integration of its inputs and the individual tuning of their strengths. Therefore, spines can be seen as anatomical signatures of a distributed neural network.
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