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The mechanism of the reflex arc

An interneuron (also called relay neuron,association neuron or bipolar neuron) is a neuron that communicates only to other neurons.

One example of interneurons are inhibitory interneurons in the neocortex which selectively inhibit sections of the thalamus based on synaptic input both from other parts of the neocortex and from the thalamus itself. This is theorized to help focus higher attention on relevant sensory input and help block out irrelevant or boring input, such as the sensation of the backs of your thighs on a chair. A human brain contains about 100 billion interneurons.

Contrast to sensory neurons or motor neurons, which respectively provide input from and output to the rest of the body.

Interneurons are the neurons that provide connections between sensory and motor neurons, as well as between themselves. The neurons of the central nervous system, including the brain, are all interneurons. Most neurons are collected into "packages" of one sort or another, often visible to the naked eye. A clump of neuron cell bodies, for example, is called a ganglion (plural: ganglia) or a nucleus (plural: nuclei). A fiber made up of many axons is called a nerve. In the brain and spinal cord, areas that are mostly axons are called white matter, and it is possible to differentiate pathways or tracts of these axons. Areas that include large number of cell bodies are called gray matter.

The term interneurons is also used for the general group of small, locally projecting neurons of the central nervous system. These neurons are typically inhibitory, and use the neurotransmitter GABA.


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