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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2012, Article ID 921732, 11 pages
Review Article

GABAergic Neuron Specification in the Spinal Cord, the Cerebellum, and the Cochlear Nucleus

Department of Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP), 4-1-1 Ogahahigashi, Kodaira, Tokyo 187-8502, Japan

Received 28 February 2012; Revised 17 May 2012; Accepted 17 May 2012

Academic Editor: Małgorzata Kossut

Copyright © 2012 Kei Hori and Mikio Hoshino. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the nervous system, there are a wide variety of neuronal cell types that have morphologically, physiologically, and histochemically different characteristics. These various types of neurons can be classified into two groups: excitatory and inhibitory neurons. The elaborate balance of the activities of the two types is very important to elicit higher brain function, because its imbalance may cause neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and hyperalgesia. In the central nervous system, inhibitory neurons are mainly represented by GABAergic ones with some exceptions such as glycinergic. Although the machinery to specify GABAergic neurons was first studied in the telencephalon, identification of key molecules, such as pancreatic transcription factor 1a (Ptf1a), as well as recently developed genetic lineage-tracing methods led to the better understanding of GABAergic specification in other brain regions, such as the spinal cord, the cerebellum, and the cochlear nucleus.