The NMDA receptor (NMDAR) is an ionotropic receptor for glutamate (NMDA (N-methyl d-aspartate) is a name of its selective specific agonist). Activation of NMDA receptors results in the opening of an ion channel which is nonselective to cations. This allows flow of Na+ and small amounts of Ca2+ ions into the cell and K+ out of the cell. Calcium flux through NMDARs is thought to play a critical role in synaptic plasticity, a cellular mechanism for learning and memory. The NMDA receptor is distinct in that it is both ligand-gated and voltage-dependent.