Interneurons - what are they?

Interneurons - what are they?

Your brain has different kinds of neurons.

You have afferent neurons, also known as sensory neurons. Their job is to receive signals from both the environment and the body. Sight, sound, and smell. 

You possess efferent neurons, also known as motor neurons. Their job is to transfer signals from the brain to your body.

But did you know that interneurons make up over 99% of your neurons?

So what are interneurons, and what do they do? 

Think of it this way. You are getting a complex set of signals every second from multiple sensory organs. You're receiving another set of signals from within.

Someone or something needs to organize everything and communicate the correct instructions to the appropriate organ or muscle. That is the role that interneurons play. 

They use chemicals known as neurotransmitters to either activate or deactivate an activity in your body. Gluthamate helps you excite, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) helps you inhibit. 

Interneurons do not connect parts of the brain together. Remember from earlier articles that your brain has specific regions that concentrate on a particular function? Therefore, interneurons do not connect these parts.

Instead, they play the role of connecting your afferent and efferent neurons. Therefore, their primary function is to regulate and signal.

Interneurons demonstrate plasticity, which is the ability to change and evolve well into adulthood. 

Neuroplasticity means that if, for some reason, your body is not transferring signals well, you can change the way it reacts.

In fact, the notion that they are only connector neurons has also undergone some revision in recent times. It is now believed that, along with our spine, they play a more fundamental role in the brain's functioning.

As evidence of their role emerges, we may revise our view. 

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