Calcium is a primary second messenger that plays a role in cellular functions including growth, movement and responses to drugs. The role that calcium plays in mediating communication between neurons by synaptic vesicle release is well established. This review focuses on the dependence of the physical properties of neuronal plasma membranes on calcium levels. After describing the key features of synaptic plasticity, we summarize the general role of calcium in cell function and the signaling pathways responsible for intracellular increase in calcium levels. We then present findings showing that increases in intracellular calcium levels cause neurites to contract and break synaptic connections by changes in membrane tension.

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