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An autapse is a chemical synapse from a neuron onto itself. It can also be described as a synapse formed by the axon of a neuron on its own dendrites in vivo or in vitro.

Discovered in 1972,[1] they were originally thought to be a biological curiosity, but are now assumed to serve some purpose,[2] (though their general function remains unknown) as they have been found to be common in some circuits of the visual cortex.[3]


  1. ^ Van der Loos, H.; Glaser, E. M. (1972). "Autapses in neocortex cerebri: synapses between a pyramidal cell's axon and its own dendrites". Brain Research 48: 355–60. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(72)90189-8. PMID 4645210. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Bekkers, J. M. (1998). "Neurophysiology: Are autapses prodigal synapses?". Curr Biol 8 (2): R52–R55. doi:10.1016/s0960-9822(98)70033-8. PMID 9427636. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Tamás, G.; Buhl, E. H.; Somogyi, P. (1997). "Massive autaptic self-innervation of GABAergic neurons in cat visual cortex". J Neurosci 17 (16): 6352–6364. PMID 9236244.  open access publication - free to read (free full text)