Betz Cells

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Betz Cells are unique in that they are some of the largest motor neurons in the human nervous system.

This is an example of pyramidal cells such as a Betz Cells. This image was taken from http://picasaweb.google.com/inchlife/NervousSystemI/photo#5121554285052046882

Betz Cells are highly specialized neurons that receive their neural communication inputs from the cortex, more specifically area 6. Betz Cells can be found just behind the Brodmann area 6 of the cortex. Betz cells also recieve inputs from the somatosensory cortex, and the thalamus.

Basic information

The Betz Cell are giant pyramidal cells in the primary motor cortex whose axons form the corticospinal pathway.

Betz Cells are thought to be some of the largest neurons in the human nervous system. This is due in part to the fact that the axons of these pyramidal neurons, must travel a considerable distance to reach their targets, most notably the motor neurons of the spinal cord and the brainstem. Betz cells have been recorded to reach over 100 μm in diameter.

The study of these pyramidal neurons was started by an anatomist Vladimir Betz in 1874. He was the first to describes the Betz Cell of the primary motor cortex. Due to his early observations, the neuron is referred to as a Betz cell.

Anatomy

  • The cell body is located in Layer V of primary motor cortex.
  • Betz Cells exhibit a multi-polar Pyramidal cell morphology.

Molecular profile

  • Neurotransmitter: Glutamate

Physiology

Synaptic Connections

Presynaptic - The premotor area of the Superficial cortical layers

Postsynaptic - spinal cord's ventral horn

References

  1. Bear. M.F., Barry, W.C. & Paradiso, M.A. (2006). Neuroscience. Exploring the Brain. (3rd Ed.). Lippincott and Wilikins.
  2. Braak H, Braak E. (1976) The pyramidal cells of Betz within the cingulate and precentral gigantopyramidal field in the human brain. A Golgi and pigmentarchitectonic study. Cell Tissue Res. 172(1):103-19. PMID 991201.
  3. Grant, Gunnar (9 January 2007 (online)). "How the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was shared between Golgi and Cajal". Brain Research Reviews 55: 490. doi:10.1016/j.brainresrev.2006.11.004. PMID 17027775.