|Location||Cortex esp. Layers III and V|
|Function||excitatory projection neuron|
|Presynaptic connections||Superficial cortical layers|
|Postsynaptic connections||Varies (see text)|
|Gray's||subject #183 722|
A pyramidal cell (or pyramidal neuron, or projection neuron) is a multipolar neuron located in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. These cells have a triangularly shaped soma, or cell body, a single apical dendrite extending towards the pial surface, multiple basal dendrites, and a single axon. Pyramidal neurons compose approximately 80% of the neurons of the cortex, and release glutamate as their neurotransmitter, making them the major excitatory component of the cortex (see synapse).
In the primary motor cortex, layer V pyramidal cells are extremely large. These cells are called Betz cells. Their cell bodies can be as large as 100 micrometers in humans. Typical human pyramidal cell bodies range from 10 to 50 micrometers. Also, any pyramidal cell that faces the opposite direction of a Betz cell (i.e. its longest dendrite faces the opposite direction of all of the other Betz cells) is known as a Martinotti cell.
Pyramidal cells are tall and conical, triangular in tissue sections. Their apex points toward the brain surface and has a thick dendrite with many branches, and small, knobby dendritic spines. The base gives rise to horizontally oriented dendrites, and an axon that passes into the white matter. Pyramidal cells are the output neurons of the cerebrum. They transmit signals to other parts of the CNS. Their axons have collaterals that synapse with other neurons in the cortex or in deeper regions of the brain.