Neural circuits process impulses in two ways, serial processing and parallel processing. Serial processing employs a straight-line neuron to neuron transmission system. It is the system of reflexes. It is in operation when one burns a finger and jerks one's hand away. Parallel processing employs several neural circuits at once. In this case the message from a single stimulus, for example the smell of a flower, will travel through different neural circuits; each circuit will deal with the stimulus in a different way . The different responses will then be combined to produce a whole picture. Parallel processing is at work when one looks at a piece of paper and recognizes it as a dollar, thinks of its potential, and contemplates spending it .
Work Step by Step
Serial processing is exemplified by reflex actions.. the five components of a serial circuit are receptor, a sensory neuron, a CNS integration center, a motor neuron,and an effector. One blinks if a bright light is shone close to one's eye. That reflex uses serial processing In parallel processing the stimulus travels along different pathways. Each pathway deals simultaneously with the stimulus in a different way. The responses are finally combined to give a complex picture . This kind of processing is important in higher level mental functioning. It is vital when one needs to put parts together to get an understanding a total situation