Neural networks, as used in artificial intelligence, have traditionally been viewed as simplified models of neural processing in the brain, even though the relation between this model and brain biological architecture is debated.
A subject of current research in theoretical neuroscience is the question surrounding the degree of complexity and the properties that individual neural elements should have to reproduce something resembling animal intelligence.
Historically, computers evolved from the von Neumann architecture, which is based on sequential processing and execution of explicit instructions. On the other hand, the origins of neural networks are based on efforts to model information processing in biological systems, which may rely largely on parallel processing as well as implicit instructions based on recognition of patterns of 'sensory' input from external sources. In other words, at its very heart a neural network is a complex statistical processor (as opposed to being tasked to sequentially process and execute)
An artificial neural network (ANN), also called a simulated neural network (SNN) or commonly just neural network (NN) is an interconnected group of artificial neurons that uses a mathematical or computational model for information processing based on a connectionist approach to computation. In most cases an ANN is an adaptive system that changes its structure based on external or internal information that flows through the network.
In more practical terms neural networks are non-linear statistical data modeling or decision making tools. They can be used to model complex relationships between inputs and outputs or to find patterns in data