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In neuroanatomy, a neuropil, which is sometimes referred to as a neuropile, is a region between neuronal cell bodies in the gray matter of the brain and spinal cord (i.e. the central nervous system). It consists of a dense tangle of axon terminals, dendrites and glial cell processes. It is where synaptic connections are formed between branches of axons and dendrites.[1]

White matter, which is mostly composed of axons and glial cells, is generally not considered to be a part of the neuropil.

On a coarse scale, nervous tissue (ignoring blood vessels etc.) is composed of the cell bodies of neurons and glial cells and their processes or protrusions. For neurons, these are dendrites, dendritic spines and axons. Dendrites collect input from other neurons, which is processed by the neuron (in both its dendrites and its cell body) and propagated to other cells via axons, which act as long-distance cables. At the end of an axon synapses are formed, serving as chemical junctions to other cells.

Etymology

From the Greek: neuro and pilus, meaning felt.[2]

References

  • Neuropil: Roche Encyclopedia of Medicine, Dictionary Barn.
  1. ^ Purves, Dale, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James O. McNamara, and Leonard E. White (2008). Neuroscience. 4th ed.. Sinauer Associates. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-0-87893-697-7.  
  2. ^ Freeman, Walter J. How Brains Make up their Minds , 2000, p. 47

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