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Anatomy and physiology of animals A reflex arc.jpg
A spinal interneuron (relay neuron) forms part of a reflex arc
Location Nervous system
MeSH A08.663.358
Code TH H2.
NeuroLex ID Intrinsic neuron role
Anatomical terminology

An interneuron (also called relay neuron, association neuron, connector neuron or local circuit neuron) is a neuron that forms a connection between other neurons. Interneurons are neither motor nor sensory. The term is also applied to brain and spinal cord neurons whose axons connect only with nearby neurons, to distinguish them from "projection" neurons, whose axons project to more distant regions of the brain or spinal cord.

Interneurons in the central nervous system[edit]

When contrasted with the peripheral nervous system (PNS), the neurons of the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain, are all interneurons. However, in the CNS, the term interneuron is used for small, locally projecting neurons (in contrast to larger projection neurons with long-distance connections). CNS interneurons are typically inhibitory, and use the neurotransmitter GABA or glycine. However, excitatory interneurons using glutamate also exist, as do interneurons releasing neuromodulators like acetylcholine.

In 2008, a nomenclature for the features of GABAergic cortical interneurons was proposed, called Petilla terminology.[1]

Inhibitory interneurons are thought to play an important role in the generation of neural oscillations.[2]

Interneurons of the spinal cord[edit]

Interneurons of the cortex[edit]

  • Parvalbumin-expressing interneurons
  • CCK-expressing interneurons
  • VIP-expressing interneurons
  • SOM-expressing interneurons

Interneurons of the cerebellum[edit]

Interneurons of the striatum[edit]


  1. ^ Ascoli GA; Alonso-Nanclares L; Anderson SA et al. (July 2008). "Petilla terminology: nomenclature of features of GABAergic interneurons of the cerebral cortex". Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 9 (7): 557–568. doi:10.1038/nrn2402. PMC 2868386. PMID 18568015. 
  2. ^ Whittington MA, Traub RD, Kopell N, Ermentrout B, Buhl EH (2000). "Inhibition-based rhythms: experimental and mathematical observations on network dynamics". Int J Psychophysiol 38: 315–336. doi:10.1016/S0167-8760(00)00173-2. PMID 11102670. 
  3. ^ Koós T, Tepper JM. Nat Neurosci. 1999 May;2(5):467-72. PMID: 10321252
  4. ^ Zhou FM, Wilson CJ, Dani JA. J Neurobiol. 2002 Dec;53(4):590-605. Review. PMID: 12436423
  5. ^ English DF, Ibanez-Sandoval O, Stark E, Tecuapetla F, Buzsáki G, Deisseroth K, Tepper JM, Koos T. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Dec 11;15(1):123-30. doi: 10.1038/nn.2984. PMID: 22158514
  6. ^ Ibáñez-Sandoval O, Tecuapetla F, Unal B, Shah F, Koós T, Tepper JM. J Neurosci. 2010 May 19;30(20):6999-7016. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5996-09.2010. PMID: 20484642
  7. ^ a b Tepper JM, Tecuapetla F, Koós T, Ibáñez-Sandoval O. Front Neuroanat. 2010 Dec 29;4:150. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2010.00150. PMID: 21228905

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