Neurons Work in Networks

Neurons never work alone. And they aren’t just connected to one other neuron in a chain. Instead each neuron is one unit in a complex network of connections. Scientists estimate a single neuron can make up to 8,000 connections with other neurons. And the activity of one neuron influences many others. The adult brain contains about 86 billion neurons. If each of those 86 billion neurons makes 8,000 connections, the complexity of the system quickly becomes hard to grasp. The neurons in the brain form the most complex network in the known universe.

And we each have one! These trillions of connections in our brains are what allow us to learn and adapt throughout our lives.

  • Axon
    output fiber of a neuron
    Cell body
    the neuron's processing center
    input fibers of a neuron
    Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
    a non-invasive brain imaging technique used to determine which regions of the brain are active
    cells located in the brain and throughout the body that are specialized to communicate messages
    the process of removing excess synapses
    Sensitive period
    a time in development when the brain is especially ready to learn a skill
    connection point between neurons