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Lateral inhibition is a mechanism by which neurons are able to determine more precisely the origin of a stimulus.

When, for instance, the skin is touched by an object, several sensory neurons in the skin next to one another are stimulated. To determine more exactly the origin of the stimulus, neurons that are stimulated suppress the stimulation of neighbouring neurons. The amount of inhibition is greater when its own stimulation is more powerful. By doing so only the neurons that are stimulated the most will fire. These neurons are more in the center of the stimulus, while the surpressed neurons lie sidewards. hence, lateral inhibition.

Lateral inhibition can be compared with increasing the contrast in images.

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