Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14, 202-216 (March 2013) | doi:10.1038/nrn3444

New insights into the classification and nomenclature of cortical GABAergic interneurons

Javier DeFelipe1,2, Pedro L. López-Cruz3, Ruth Benavides-Piccione1,2, Concha Bielza3, Pedro Larrañaga3, Stewart Anderson5, Andreas Burkhalter6, Bruno Cauli7, Alfonso Fairén8, Dirk Feldmeyer9,10, Gord Fishell11, David Fitzpatrick12, Tamás F. Freund13, Guillermo González-Burgos14, Shaul Hestrin15, Sean Hill16, Patrick R. Hof17, Josh Huang18, Edward G. Jones38, Yasuo Kawaguchi19, Zoltán Kisvárday20, Yoshiyuki Kubota19, David A. Lewis14, Oscar Marín8, Henry Markram16, Chris J. McBain21, Hanno S. Meyer22, Hannah Monyer23, Sacha B. Nelson24, Kathleen Rockland25, Jean Rossier26, John L. R. Rubenstein27, Bernardo Rudy28, Massimo Scanziani29, Gordon M. Shepherd30, Chet C. Sherwood31, Jochen F. Staiger32, Gábor Tamás33, Alex Thomson34, Yun Wang35,36, Rafael Yuste37 & Giorgio A. Ascoli4  About the authors


A systematic classification and accepted nomenclature of neuron types is much needed but is currently lacking. This article describes a possible taxonomical solution for classifying GABAergic interneurons of the cerebral cortex based on a novel, web-based interactive system that allows experts to classify neurons with pre-determined criteria. Using Bayesian analysis and clustering algorithms on the resulting data, we investigated the suitability of several anatomical terms and neuron names for cortical GABAergic interneurons. Moreover, we show that supervised classification models could automatically categorize interneurons in agreement with experts' assignments. These results demonstrate a practical and objective approach to the naming, characterization and classification of neurons based on community consensus.

Author affiliations

  1. Laboratorio Cajal de Circuitos Corticales, Centro de Tecnología Biomédica (CTB), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Campus Montegancedo S/N, Pozuelo de Alarcón, 28223 Madrid, Spain.
  2. Instituto Cajal (CSIC), Avenida Doctor Arce 37, 28002 Madrid, Spain.
  3. Departamento de Inteligencia Artificial, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Campus de Montegancedo S/N, 28660, Boadilla del Monte, Madrid, Spain.
  4. Center for Neural Informatics, Structure, and Plasticity Molecular Neuroscience Department, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study MS2A1, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444, USA.
  5. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, ARC 517, 3615 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-5127, USA.
  6. Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.
  7. Réseau Cortical et Couplage Neurovasculaire, Laboratoire de Neurobiologie des Processus Adaptatifs UMR 7102 CNRS-UPMC, 9 Quai Saint-Bernard, 75 005 Paris, France.
  8. Instituto de Neurociencias, CSIC & Universidad Miguel Hernández, Sant Joan d'Alacant 03550, Alicante, Spain.
  9. Research Centre Juelich, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, INM-2, Function of Neuronal Microcircuits Group, Leo-Brandt-Strasse, D-52425 Juelich, Germany.
  10. Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule, Aachen University, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Pauwelsstr. 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.
  11. NYU Neuroscience Institute Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, New York 10016, USA.
  12. Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, 1 Max Planck Way, Jupiter, Florida 33468, USA.
  13. Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Experimental Medicine, H-1083 Budapest, Szigony u. 43, Hungary.
  14. Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Biomedical Science Tower, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.
  15. Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Edwards 312/314 Stanford, California 94305, USA.
  16. Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique, Fédérale de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
  17. Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York 10029, USA.
  18. Beckman Building, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.
  19. Division of Cerebral Circuitry, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8787, Japan.
  20. Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary.
  21. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 35 Lincoln Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-3715, USA.
  22. Department of Neurosurgery, Technical University of Munich, Ismaninger Str. 22, 81675 Munich, Germany.
  23. Department of Clinical Neurobiology University Hospital and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
  24. Department of Biology and Center for Behavioral Genomics, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA.
  25. Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, 72 East Concord Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.
  26. CPN INSERM U894, Hôpital Sainte Anne, 2 ter rue d'Alésia, 75014 Paris, France.
  27. Genetics, Development and Behavioral Sciences Building, 1550 4th Street, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-2611, USA.
  28. New York University, 522 First Avenue, Smilow Research Building, New York, New York 10016, USA.
  29. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego, Neurobiology Section 0634, Division of Biology, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California 92093-0634, USA.
  30. Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8001 USA.
  31. Department of Anthropology, Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology and GW Institute for Neuroscience, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA.
  32. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen – Zentrum Anatomie, Abteilung Neuroanatomie, Kreuzbergring 36, D-37075 Göttingen, Germany.
  33. Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Neuroscience. University of Szeged, Szeged, H-6726, Hungary.
  34. Department of Pharmacology, University College of London School of Pharmacy, London, WC1N 1AX, UK.
  35. School of Optometry and Ophthalmology, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325027, China.
  36. Steward St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. Tufts Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02135, USA.
  37. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, Biological Sciences, 550 West 120th Street, New York, New York 10027, USA.
  38. In memory of Ted Jones

Correspondence to: Javier DeFelipe1,2 Email:

Correspondence to: Pedro Larrañaga3 Email:

Correspondence to: Giorgio A. Ascoli4 Email:

Published online 6 February 2013