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crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A neural pathway serves to communicate information in the brain and nervous system between regions that are not adjacent to one another.  They are composed of connections of neurons, usually myelinated neurons (white matter), which transmit action potentials faster than non-myleinated neurons (grey matter).

The neurons in a neural pathway send information via neurotransmitters.  These neurotransmitters release from the terminal buttons of the sending neuron and bind to the dendrites of the receiving neuron.  If the neurotransmitter depolarizes the neuron, an action potential is transmitted down the axon, the longest part of the neuron.  The axon acts as the conduit for sending information long distances in the brain and nervous system.

One example of a neural pathway is the corpus callosum.  This bundle of nerve fibers is responsible for the communication the occurs between the left and right lobes of the brain.  If this is severed, as is done as a treatment for severe epilepsy, one lobe won't know what the other is doing.  This causes subtle deficits in the split-brain patient, but they surprisingly don't interrupt daily functioning.