Plastic changes in synaptic efficacy can depend on the time ordering of presynaptic and postsynaptic spikes. This phenomenon is called spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP). One of the most striking aspects of this plasticity mechanism is that the STDP windows display a great variety of forms in different parts of the nervous system. We explore this issue from a theoretical point of view. We choose as the optimization principle the minimization of conditional entropy or maximization of reliability in the transmission of information. We apply this principle to two types of postsynaptic dynamics, designated type I and type II. The first is characterized as being an integrator, while the second is a resonator. We find that, depending on the parameters of the models, the optimization principle can give rise to a wide variety of STDP windows, such as antisymmetric Hebbian, predominantly depressing or symmetric with one positive region and two lateral negative regions. We can relate each of these forms to the dynamical behavior of the different models. We also propose experimental tests to assess the validity of the optimization principle.

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