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Inhibitory synapse

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(1) A synapse in which the nerve impulse in a presynaptic cell results in a reduced likelihood for a postsynaptic cell to fire an action potential.

(2) A synapse wherein a nerve impulse in the presynaptic cell results in the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters that triggers the opening of multiple ion channels in the postsynaptic cell membrane so that negative ions move into (or positive ions move out of) the cell, thereby stabilizing its resting potential. In such a case, the probability of reaching the firing threshold for an action potential is reduced.


Inhibitory synapses are important to modulate the activity of the nervous system. The most common inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult mammalian brain and retina is GABA.

Compare: excitatory synapse