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This paper describes an area-efficient mixed-signal implementation of synapse-based long term plasticity realized in a VLSI model of a spiking neural network. The artificial synapses are based on an implementation of spike time dependent plasticity (STDP). In the biological specimen, STDP is a mechanism acting locally in each synapse. The presented electronic implementation succeeds in maintaining this high level of parallelism and simultaneously achieves a synapse density of more than 9k synapses per mm2 in a 180 nm technology. This allows the construction of neural micro-circuits close to the biological specimen while maintaining a speed several orders of magnitude faster than biological real time. The large acceleration factor enhances the possibilities to investigate key aspects of plasticity, e.g. by performing extensive parameter searches.