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Micrograph of a ganglion. H&E stain.

In anatomy, a ganglion (pronounced /ˈɡæŋɡliən/, GANG-glee-ən, plural ganglia) is a biological tissue mass, most commonly a mass of nerve cell bodies.[1] Cells found in a ganglion are called ganglion cells, though this term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to retinal ganglion cells.

In some dinosaurs, the ganglion in the pelvis was so large relative to its brain that it could almost be said to have two brains.[2]



In neurological contexts, ganglia are composed mainly of somata and dendritic structures which are bundled or connected together. Ganglia often interconnect with other ganglia to form a complex system of ganglia known as a plexus. Ganglia provide relay points and intermediary connections between different neurological structures in the body, such as the peripheral and central nervous systems.

There are two major groups of ganglia:

In the autonomic nervous system, fibers from the central nervous system to the ganglia are known as preganglionic fibers, while those from the ganglia to the effector organ are called postganglionic fibers.


Basal ganglia

The term "ganglion" usually refers to the peripheral nervous system.[3 ]

However, in the brain (part of the central nervous system), the "basal ganglia" is a group of nuclei interconnected with the cerebral cortex, thalamus and brainstem, associated with a variety of functions: motor control, cognition, emotions and learning.

Partly due to this ambiguity, the Terminologia Anatomica recommends using the term basal nuclei instead of basal ganglia.

Additional images

See also


  1. ^ ganglion at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Dawkins R (2009). The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. London: Bantam Press
  3. ^ "UNSW Embryology- Glossary G". Retrieved 2008-01-13.  


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also ganglion


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Ganglion n.

  1. ganglion

Simple English

In anatomy, a ganglion (plural ganglia) is a biological tissue mass, part of the nervous system. It is a mass of nerve cell bodies.[1]

With invertebrates, ganglia often do the work of a brain. In these cases, like the earthworm, there is a ganglion above the gut at the front. This is linked to another under the gut by nerve fibres running down each side of the gut. The rest of the central nervous system runs under the gut. This type of arrangement in found in a number of invertebrate phyla, and contrasts with the vertebrates, who have their spinal cord above their gut.

In another usage, ganglion cells are found in the retina of the vertebrate eye.


  1. Dorland's Medical Dictionary


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