Neocortical basket cells

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Neo cortical Basket Cell is a neuron found in vertebrates

Neo cortical Basket cell

Image of Neocortical Basket cell

Basic Information

Basket Cells were first described by Cajal in the motor and visual cortex of the human brain. They are small, medium-sized, and large multipolar neurons, whose diameters vary from 12 to 30 µm and whose bodies are located in layers II–VI . BC terminals--basket plexuses and pericellular nestles contact with bodies, axonalhillock and proximal regions of pyramidal neurons dendrites and double-bouquet cells, forming reciprocal relations with them in accordance with domain-selection principle. BC establish ties between each other and interconnect by means of autapses

Neuronal Type: Local Interneuron.

Variety and Topographical characteristics

Neocortical basket cell somata are located in layers II-VI or the cortex. They have diameters that range from 12 to 30 µm. Their dendrites are either smooth or have very few spines and their axons mostly pass in the vertical and horizontal direction. Basket cells make up the largest population of inhibitory neurons.

Basket neurons are distinguished from other cortical interneurons by their axons, which pass predominantly in the vertical and horizontal directions. They form long (up to300–700 µm), extensively arborized or straight branch rays in the horizontal, oblique, and vertical directions, covering large areas of the cortex with diameters of up to 1400 µm. A second morphological characteristic is provided by the axon terminals – vertically orientated filaments with large beads and basket-like plexuses or pericellular holes.

Anatomical diversity

Anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular diversity of basket cell-like interneurons in layers II–IV of rat somatosensory cortex were studied using patch-clamp electrodes filled with biocytin. This multiparametric study shows that neocortical basket cells (BCs) are composed of three distinct subclasses: classical large (LBC) and small (SBC) basket cells and a third subclass, the nest basket cell (NBC). Anatomically, NBCs were distinct from LBCs and SBCs in that they formed simpler dendritic arbors and an axonal plexus of inter-mediate density, composed of a few long, smooth axonal branches. Electro physiologically, NBCs exhibited diverse discharge responses to depolarizing current injections including accommodation, non-accommodation and stuttering

Molecular profile

Neurotransmitter: GABA Molecular Markers: Parvalbumin is a calcium binding albumin protein. Interneurons are labeled as either PV+ or PV-. Neocortical Basket Cells are PV+. The production of parvalbumin is thought to be responsible for increased neuron activity and as a result these neurons are labeled as fast spiking cells.

Synaptic Inputs

Neocortical Basket Cells receive synapses from the reverse collaterals of pyramidal neuron axons and also receive axodendritic synapses from double bouquet cells. They also receive inputs from GABAergic afferent fibers and corticopetal dopaminergic fibers.

Synaptic Outputs

Neocortical Basket Cells form perisomatic synapses on double bouquet cells, arcades, and dendrite-targeting cells.

Spiking properties

Neocortical basket cells exhibit tonic spiking. Therefore, they are known as Fast Spiking (FS) inhibitory neurons. The behavior of spiking in neocortical basket cells is linked with increases in the content of calcium ions, which activates potassium ion conductivity, and leads to the development of hyperpolarization. The spiking behavior of the neurons in mediated by excitation of NMDA receptors.


A hypothesis according to which basket plexus may be thought of as an inhibiting integrator, equaling excitation in a cluster of several pyramidal cells is under substantiation

Neocortical basket cells are key interneurons in lateral inhibition. This behavior is responsible for our perception of optical illusions. The cells are also key in callosal inhibition which is responsible for our ability to process language. Lastly these neurons are key in intramodule (intracolumn) inhibition which is responsible for short term memory.


  1. Conn P.M (2003) Neuroscience in Medicine. 231-232
  2. Kalinichenko S.G., Okhotin V.E. (2002) The Histophysiology of Neocortical Basket Cells, Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology, 32: 455-470.
  3. S. Ramon y Cajal, Histologie du Systeme Nerveux de l’Homme et des Vertebres, Maloine, Paris (1911), Vol. II.
  4. Okhotin VE Kalinichenko SG. [Histophysiology of neocortical basket cells]. Morfologiia (Saint Petersburg, Russia). 2001;120(4):7-24.
  5. Okhotin VE Kalinichenko SG. The Histophysiology of Neocortical Basket CellsNeuroscience and Behavioral Physiology, Vol. 32, No. 5, 2002
  6. Wang Y., Gupta A., Toledo-Rodriguez M., Wu C.Z., Markram H. (2002) Anatomical, Physiological, Molecular, and Circuit Properties of Nest Basket Cells in the Developing Somatosensory Cortex, 12:4. 395-410. PMID: 11884355

Additional Information

  1. NeuronDB