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We derive an optimal learning rule in the sense of mutual information maximization for a spiking neuron model. Under the assumption of small fluctuations of the input, we find a spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) function which depends on the time course of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) an d the autocorrelation function of the postsynaptic neuron. We show that the STDP function has both positive and negative phases. The positive phase is related to the shape of the EPSP while the negative phase is controlled by neuronal refractoriness.