Links for Keyword: Neurogenesis

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Laurel Hamers Your brain might make new nerve cells well into old age. Healthy people in their 70s have just as many young nerve cells, or neurons, in a memory-related part of the brain as do teenagers and young adults, researchers report in the April 5 Cell Stem Cell. The discovery suggests that the hippocampus keeps generating new neurons throughout a person’s life. The finding contradicts a study published in March, which suggested that neurogenesis in the hippocampus stops in childhood (SN Online: 3/8/18). But the new research fits with a larger pile of evidence showing that adult human brains can, to some extent, make new neurons. While those studies indicate that the process tapers off over time, the new study proposes almost no decline at all. Understanding how healthy brains change over time is important for researchers untangling the ways that conditions like depression, stress and memory loss affect older brains. When it comes to studying neurogenesis in humans, “the devil is in the details,” says Jonas Frisén, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm who was not involved in the new research. Small differences in methodology — such as the way brains are preserved or how neurons are counted — can have a big impact on the results, which could explain the conflicting findings. The new paper “is the most rigorous study yet,” he says. Researchers studied hippocampi from the autopsied brains of 17 men and 11 women ranging in age from 14 to 79. In contrast to past studies that have often relied on donations from patients without a detailed medical history, the researchers knew that none of the donors had a history of psychiatric illness or chronic illness. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24830 - Posted: 04.06.2018

Giorgia Guglielmi Every day, the human hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory, creates hundreds of new nerve cells — or so scientists thought. Now, results from a study could upend this long-standing idea. A team of researchers has found that the birth of neurons in this region seems to stop once we become adults. A few years ago, the group looked at a well-preserved adult brain sample and spotted a few young neurons in several regions, but none in the hippocampus. So they decided to analyse hippocampus samples from dozens of donors, ranging from fetuses to people in their 60s and 70s. They concluded that the number of new hippocampal neurons starts to dwindle after birth and drops to near zero in adulthood. The results1, published in Nature on 7 March, are already raising controversy. If confirmed, the findings would be a “huge blow” not only to scientists in the field, but also to people with certain brain disorders, says Ludwig Aigner, a neuroscientist at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria. This is because researchers had hoped to harness the brain’s ability to generate new neurons to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, he says. But Aigner and other neuroscientists are not fully persuaded by the findings, which contradict multiple lines of evidence that the hippocampus keeps producing neurons throughout a person’s life. “I wouldn’t close the books on [that],” says neuroscientist Heather Cameron of the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24733 - Posted: 03.08.2018

Laura Sanders Brain scientists have filmed a first-of-a-kind birth video. It reveals specialized cells in the brains of mice dividing to create newborn nerve cells. The images, published in the Feb. 9 Science, show intricacies of how certain parts of the adult mouse brain can churn out new nerve cells. These details may help lead to a deeper understanding of the role of this nerve cell renewal in such processes as memory. Deep in the brains of mice, a memory-related structure called the hippocampus is known to be flush with new nerve cells. But because this buried neural real estate is hard to study, the circumstances of these births weren’t clear. Using living mice, Sebastian Jessberger, a neuroscientist at the University of Zurich, and colleagues removed the outer layers of brain tissue that obscure the hippocampus. The scientists marked 63 cells called radial stem cells, which can divide to create new nerve cells. Researchers then watched these stem cells for up to two months, taking pictures every 12 or 24 hours. During that time, 42 of these stem cells underwent a spurt of division, churning out two kinds of cells: intermediate cells that would go on to produce nerve cells as well as mature nerve cells themselves. Once this burst of activity ended, the radial stem cells disappeared by dividing themselves into mature nerve cells that could no longer split. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24635 - Posted: 02.09.2018

Laura Sanders In stark contrast to earlier findings, adults do not produce new nerve cells in a brain area important to memory and navigation, scientists conclude after scrutinizing 54 human brains spanning the age spectrum. The finding is preliminary. But if confirmed, it would overturn the widely accepted and potentially powerful idea that in people, the memory-related hippocampus constantly churns out new neurons in adulthood. Adult brains showed no signs of such turnover in that region, researchers reported November 13 at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. Previous studies in animals have hinted that boosting the birthrate of new neurons, a process called neurogenesis, in the hippocampus might enhance memory or learning abilities, combat depression and even stave off the mental decline that comes with dementia and old age (SN: 9/27/08, p. 5). In rodents, exercise, enriched environments and other tweaks can boost hippocampal neurogenesis — and more excitingly, memory performance. But the new study may temper those ambitions, at least for people. Researchers studied 54 human brain samples that ranged from fetal stages to age 77, acquired either postmortem or during brain surgery. These samples were cut into thin slices and probed with molecular tools that can signal dividing or young cells, both of which are signs that nerve cells are being born. As expected, fetal and infant samples showed evidence of both dividing cells that give rise to new neurons and young neurons themselves in the hippocampus. But with age, these numbers declined. In brain tissue from a 13-year-old, the researchers spotted only a handful of young neurons. And in adults, there were none. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24334 - Posted: 11.16.2017

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Because we can never have enough reasons to keep exercising, a new study with mice finds that physical activity not only increases the number of new neurons in the brain, it also subtly changes the shape and workings of these cells in ways that might have implications for memory and even delaying the onset of dementia. As most of us have heard, our brains are not composed of static, unchanging tissue. Instead, in most animals, including people, the brain is a dynamic, active organ in which new neurons and neural connections are created throughout life, especially in areas of the brain related to memory and thinking. This process of creating new neurons, called neurogenesis, can be altered by lifestyle, including physical activity. Many past studies have shown that in laboratory rodents, exercise doubles or even triples the number of new cells produced in adult animals’ brains compared to the brains of animals that are sedentary. But it has not been clear whether the new brain cells in active animals are somehow different from comparable new neurons in inactive animals or if they are just more numerous. That question has long interested scientists at the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, who have been examining how running alters the brains and behavior of lab animals. Last year, in an important study published in NeuroImage, the researchers found for the first time that young brain cells in adult mice that spent a month with running wheels in their cages did seem to be different from those in animals that did not run. For the experiment, the scientists injected a modified rabies vaccine into the animals, where it entered the nervous system and brain. They then tracked and labeled connections between brain cells and learned that compared to the sedentary animals’ brain cells, the runners’ newborn neurons had more and longer dendrites, the snaky tendrils that help to connect the cells into the neural communications network. They also found that more of these connections led to portions of the brain that are important for spatial memory, which is our internal map of where we have been and how we got there. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 24145 - Posted: 10.04.2017

By Ruth Williams .Newly made cells in the brains of mice adopt a more complex morphology and connectivity when the animals encounter an unusual environment than if their experiences are run-of-the-mill. Researchers have now figured out just how that happens. According to a study published today (October 27) in Science, a particular type of cell—called an interneuron—in the hippocampus processes the animals’ experiences and subsequently shapes the newly formed neurons. “We knew that experience shapes the maturation of these new neurons, but what this paper does is it lays out the entire circuit through which that happens,” said Heather Cameron, a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda who was not involved with the work. “It’s a really nicely done piece of work because they go step-by-step and show all of the cells that are involved and how they’re connected.” Most of the cells in the adult mammalian brain are mature and don’t divide, but in a few regions, including an area of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus, neurogenesis occurs. The dentate gyrus is thought to be involved in the formation of new memories. In mice, for instance, exploring novel surroundings electrically activates the dentate gyrus and can affect the production, maturation, and survival of the newly born cells. Now, Alejandro Schinder and his team at the Leloir Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina, have investigated the process in detail. © 1986-2016 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 22804 - Posted: 10.29.2016

David R. Jacobs, We all know that exercise improves our physical fitness, but staying in shape can also boost our brainpower. We are not entirely sure how, but evidence points to several explanations. First, to maintain normal cognitive function, the brain requires a constant supply of oxygen and other chemicals, delivered via its abundant blood vessels. Physical exercise—and even just simple activities such as washing dishes or vacuuming—helps to circulate nutrient-rich blood efficiently throughout the body and keeps the blood vessels healthy. Exercise increases the creation of mitochondria—the cellular structures that generate and maintain our energy—both in our muscles and in our brain, which may explain the mental edge we often experience after a workout. Studies also show that getting the heart rate up enhances neurogenesis—the ability to grow new brain cells—in adults. Regardless of the mechanism, mounting evidence is revealing a robust relation between physical fitness and cognitive function. In our 2014 study, published in Neurology, we found that physical activity has an extensive, long-lasting influence on cognitive performance. We followed 2,747 healthy people between the ages of 18 and 30 for 25 years. In 1985 we evaluated their physical fitness using a treadmill test: the participants walked up an incline that became increasingly steep every two minutes. On average, they walked for about 10 minutes, reaching 3.4 miles per hour at an 18 percent incline (a fairly steep hill). Low performers lasted for only seven minutes and high performers for about 13 minutes. A second treadmill test in 2005 revealed that our participants' fitness levels had declined with age, as would be expected, but those who were in better shape in 1985 were also more likely to be fit 20 years later. © 2016 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 22555 - Posted: 08.13.2016

THERE they are! Newborn neurons vital for memory have been viewed in a live brain for the first time. The work could aid treatments for anxiety and stress disorders. Attila Losonczy at Columbia University Medical Center in New York and his team implanted a tiny microscope into the brains of live mice, the brain cells of which had been modified to make newly made neurons glow. The mice then ran on a treadmill as the team tweaked the surrounding sights, smells and sounds. The researchers paired a small electric shock with some cues, so the mice learned to associate these with an unpleasant experience. They then deactivated the newborn neurons – present in areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory – using optogenetics, which switches off specific cells with light. After this, the mice were unable to tell the difference between the scary and safe cues, becoming fearful of them all (Neuron, doi.org/bc7v). “It suggests that newborn cells do something special that allows animals to tell apart and separate memories,” says Losonczy. An inability to discriminate between similar sensory information triggered by different events – such as the sound of a gunshot and a car backfiring – is often seen in panic and anxiety disorders, such as PTSD. This suggests that new neurons, or a lack of them, plays a part in such conditions and could guide novel treatments. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 22001 - Posted: 03.17.2016

By Emily Underwood Nestled deep within a brain region that processes memory is a sliver of tissue that continually sprouts brand-new neurons, at least into late adulthood. A study in mice now provides the first glimpse at how these newborn neurons behave in animals as they learn, and hints at the purpose of the new arrivals: to keep closely-related but separate memories distinct. A number of previous studies have suggested that the birth of new neurons is key to memory formation. In particular, scientists believe the new cell production—known as neurogenesis—plays a role in pattern separation, the ability to discriminate between similar experiences, events, or contexts based on sensory cues such as a certain smell or visual landmark. Pattern separation helps us use cues such as the presence of a particular tree or cars nearby, for example, to distinguish which parking space we chose today, as opposed to yesterday or the day before. This ability appears to be particularly diminished in people with anxiety and mood disorders. Scientists can produce deficits in pattern separation in animals by blocking neurogenesis, using x-ray radiation to kill targeted populations of cells in the dentate gyrus. Because such studies have not established the precise identity of which cells are being recorded from, however, no one has been able to address the “burning question” in the field: "how young, adult-born neurons and mature dentate granule neurons differ in their activity," says Amar Sahay, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. © 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Scienc

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 21980 - Posted: 03.12.2016

By Gretchen Reynolds Some forms of exercise may be much more effective than others at bulking up the brain, according to a remarkable new study in rats. For the first time, scientists compared head-to-head the neurological impacts of different types of exercise: running, weight training and high-intensity interval training. The surprising results suggest that going hard may not be the best option for long-term brain health. As I have often written, exercise changes the structure and function of the brain. Studies in animals and people have shown that physical activity generally increases brain volume and can reduce the number and size of age-related holes in the brain’s white and gray matter. Exercise also, and perhaps most resonantly, augments adult neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells in an already mature brain. In studies with animals, exercise, in the form of running wheels or treadmills, has been found to double or even triple the number of new neurons that appear afterward in the animals’ hippocampus, a key area of the brain for learning and memory, compared to the brains of animals that remain sedentary. Scientists believe that exercise has similar impacts on the human hippocampus. These past studies of exercise and neurogenesis understandably have focused on distance running. Lab rodents know how to run. But whether other forms of exercise likewise prompt increases in neurogenesis has been unknown and is an issue of increasing interest, given the growing popularity of workouts such as weight training and high-intensity intervals. So for the new study, which was published this month in the Journal of Physiology, researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland and other institutions gathered a large group of adult male rats. The researchers injected the rats with a substance that marks new brain cells and then set groups of them to an array of different workouts, with one group remaining sedentary to serve as controls. © 2016 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 21902 - Posted: 02.17.2016

by Catherine Brahic Think crayfish and you probably think supper, perhaps with mayo on the side. You probably don't think of their brains. Admittedly, crayfish aren't known for their grey matter, but that might be about to change: they can grow new brain cells from blood. Humans can make new neurons, but only from specialised stem cells. Crayfish, meanwhile, can convert blood to neurons that resupply their eyestalks and smell circuits. Although it's a long way from crayfish to humans, the discovery may one day help us to regenerate our own brain cells. Olfactory nerves are continuously exposed to damage and so naturally regenerate in many animals, from flies to humans, and crustaceans too. It makes sense that crayfish have a way to replenish these nerves. To do so, they utilise what amounts to a "nursery" for baby neurons, a little clump at the base of the brain called the niche. In crayfish, blood cells are attracted to the niche. On any given day, there are a hundred or so cells in this area. Each cell will split into two daughter cells, precursors to full neurons, both of which migrate out of the niche. Those that are destined to be part of the olfactory system head to two clumps of nerves in the brain called clusters 9 and 10. It's there that the final stage of producing new smell neurons is completed. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 19954 - Posted: 08.13.2014

By Charles Q. Choi Scientists have found a kind of brain cell in mice that can instruct stem cells to start making more neurons, according to a new study. In addition, they found that electrical signals could trigger this growth in rodents, raising the intriguing possibility that devices could one day help the human brain repair itself. The study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience. We knew the brain can generate new neurons, a process known as neurogenesis, via neural stem cells. And neuroscientists knew these stem cells got their instructions from a variety of sources from chemicals in the bloodstream, for instance, and from cells in the structures that hold the cerebrospinal fluid that cushion the brain. Earlier research had suggested brain cells might also be able to command these stem cells to create neurons. Neuroscientist Chay Kuo at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., and his colleagues have now discovered such cells in mice. "It's really cool that the brain can tell stem cells to make more neurons," Kuo says. To begin their experiments, the researchers tested how well a variety of neurotransmitters performed at spurring mouse neural stem cells to produce new neurons; they found that a compound known as acetylcholine performed best. The team then discovered a previously unknown type of neuron that produces an enzyme needed to make acetylcholine. These neurons are found in a part of the adult mouse brain known as the subventricular zone, where neurogenesis occurs. ©2014 Hearst Communication, Inc

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 19694 - Posted: 06.05.2014

Brain cell regeneration has been discovered in a new location in human brains. The finding raises hopes that these cells could be used to help people recover after a stroke, or to treat other brain diseases. For years it was unclear whether or not we could generate new brain cells during our lifetime, as the process – neurogenesis – had only been seen in animals. Instead, it was thought that humans, with our large and complex brains, are born with all the required neurons. Then last year Jonas Frisén of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and his colleagues found that neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampi of the human brain. These structures are crucial for memory formation (Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.002) Now they have found more new brain cells in a second location – golf-ball-sized structures called the striata. These seem to be involved in many different functions, including in learning and memory. These particular aspects, related as they are to the hippocampi, lead Frisén to speculate that these new brain cells may also be involved with learning. "New neurons may convey some sort of plasticity," he says, which might help people learn and adapt to new situations. To reveal the new brain cells, the team exploited the fact that there have been varying levels of a radioactive isotope of carbon – carbon-14 – in the atmosphere since nuclear bomb tests during the cold war. This means that the year of creation of many cells in the body can be found by measuring the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in its DNA. Analysis of 30 donated brains revealed which brain cells had been born during the lifetimes of the donors. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 19282 - Posted: 02.22.2014

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS In an eye-opening demonstration of nature’s ingenuity, researchers at Princeton University recently discovered that exercise creates vibrant new brain cells — and then shuts them down when they shouldn’t be in action. For some time, scientists studying exercise have been puzzled by physical activity’s two seemingly incompatible effects on the brain. On the one hand, exercise is known to prompt the creation of new and very excitable brain cells. At the same time, exercise can induce an overall pattern of calm in certain parts of the brain. Most of us probably don’t realize that neurons are born with certain predispositions. Some, often the younger ones, are by nature easily excited. They fire with almost any provocation, which is laudable if you wish to speed thinking and memory formation. But that feature is less desirable during times of everyday stress. If a stressor does not involve a life-or-death decision and require immediate physical action, then having lots of excitable neurons firing all at once can be counterproductive, inducing anxiety. Studies in animals have shown that physical exercise creates excitable neurons in abundance, especially in the hippocampus, a portion of the brain known to be involved in thinking and emotional responses. But exercise also has been found to reduce anxiety in both people and animals. How can an activity simultaneously create ideal neurological conditions for anxiety and leave practitioners with a deep-rooted calm, the Princeton researchers wondered? So they gathered adult mice, injected them with a substance that marks newborn cells in the brain, and for six weeks, allowed half of them to run at will on little wheels, while the others sat quietly in their cages. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 18344 - Posted: 07.03.2013

by Emily Underwood The mushroom clouds produced by more than 500 nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War may have had a silver lining, after all. More than 50 years later, scientists have found a way to use radioactive carbon isotopes released into the atmosphere by nuclear testing to settle a long-standing debate in neuroscience: Does the adult human brain produce new neurons? After working to hone their technique for more than a decade, the researchers report that a small region of the human brain involved in memory makes new neurons throughout our lives—a continuous process of self-renewal that may aid learning. For a long time, scientific dogma held that our brains did not produce new neurons during adulthood, says Pasko Rakic, a neuroscientist at Yale University who was not involved in the study. In 1998, however, a group of Swedish researchers reported the first evidence that neurons are continually born throughout the human lifespan. The researchers injected a compound normally used to label tumor cell division into patients who had agreed to have their brains examined after death. When the scientists examined the postmortem brain tissue, they found that new neurons had indeed sprung forth during adulthood. The cells were located in a part of the hippocampus—a pair of seahorse-shaped structures located deep within the brain and involved in memory and learning. The compound was later found to be toxic, however, and the experiment was never repeated. Since 1998, a number of studies have demonstrated that new neurons are generated in the same small region of the hippocampus in mice and appear to play an important role in memory and learning, says Kirsty Spalding, a molecular biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and lead author of the new study. Because the 1998 work was never confirmed by independent research, however, scientists have fiercely argued over whether the neuron birth seen in mice also occurs in people. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18249 - Posted: 06.08.2013

By Ferris Jabr The human body is a tireless gardener, growing new cells throughout life in many organs—in the skin, blood, bones and intestines. Until the 1980s most scientists thought that brain cells were the exception: the neurons you are born with are the neurons you have for life. In the past three decades, however, researchers have discovered hints that the human brain produces new neurons after birth in two places: the hippocampus—a region important for memory—and the walls of fluid-filled cavities called ventricles, from which stem cells migrate to the olfactory bulb, a knob of brain tissue behind the eyes that processes smell. Studies have clearly demonstrated that such migration happens in mice long after birth and that human infants generate new neurons. But the evidence that similar neurogenesis persists in the adult human brain is mixed and highly contested. A new study relying on a unique form of carbon dating suggests that neurons born during adulthood rarely if ever weave themselves into the olfactory bulb's circuitry. In other words, people—unlike other mammals—do not replenish their olfactory bulb neurons, which might be explained by how little most of us rely on our sense of smell. Although the new research casts doubt on the renewal of olfactory bulb neurons in the adult human brain, many neuroscientists are far from ready to end the debate. In preparation for the new study, Olaf Bergmann and Jonas Frisén of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and their colleagues acquired 14 frozen olfactory bulbs from autopsies performed between 2005 and 2011 at the institute's Department of Forensic Medicine. To determine whether the neurons were younger than the people they came from—which would mean the cells were generated after birth—the researchers needed to isolate the cells' DNA. © 2012 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16897 - Posted: 06.11.2012

By Tina Hesman Saey Newborn nerve cells may help heal the brain after a traumatic injury. In a study in mice, blocking the birth of new neurons hindered the mice’s ability to learn and remember a water maze after a brain injury, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas report in the March 30 Journal of Neuroscience. The finding could help settle a debate about what new nerve cells do for the brain and may eventually change the way brain-injured patients are treated. Although scientists have known for a decade that adult brains can make new neurons in two parts of the brain, the role of the newborn cells has not been clear. Some scientists thought that, in adults, neurogenesis, as researchers call the process of generating new nerve cells, may be a leftover from building a new brain during development and has no affect on the adult brain at all. Others have evidence that the new wiring that hooks up new brain cells sometimes gets tangled and may lead to seizures after a brain injury or in epilepsy. Many researchers have suspected that making new cells is good for the brain, but data to definitely settle the claim has been lacking. The new study suggests that newborn neurons made in the hippocampus — an important learning and memory center in the brain — are beneficial, at least in aiding recovery after traumatic brain injuries. “It’s clear they are doing something, and that that something aids recovery,” says Jack Parent, a neurologist and neuroscientist at the University of Michigan Medical Center. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 15155 - Posted: 03.31.2011

By Tina Hesman Saey Rubbernecking neurons don’t do an injured brain any good. Newborn neurons rush to the scene of the damage but don’t pitch in to help heal the wound, a new study shows. Scientists have had great hopes that new neurons produced in the brain after a stroke or other insult could migrate to the wounded area and replace damaged cells. Previous research has shown that the newborns are attracted to injury sites, but a new study that appears in the April 22 Journal of Neuroscience shows that those neurons don’t form replacements for the majority of cells. The results indicate that simply boosting neuron production may not help heal the brain. Zhengang Yang of Fudan University in Shanghai and colleagues induced strokes in a part of rats’ brains called the striatum, which controls movement, and marked new neurons so the cells could be traced as they migrated through the brain. The researchers examined the cells for certain proteins that are hallmarks of different neuron types, to see which kind of neuron the cells differentiated into. Previous research has shown that new neurons are born in the adult brain in two places — the hippocampus and the subventricular zone, or SVZ. Neurons born in the SVZ usually migrate to the olfactory bulb. But after a stroke, some of the new SVZ neurons flock to the wound site. Yang and his colleagues show in the new study that the new SVZ neurons don’t form medium-sized spiny neurons, the type of cell most common in the striatum. Only neurons producing calretinin and Sp8, two markers of olfactory bulb neurons, migrate into the wounded striatum. There, the neurons form the same type that they would in the olfactory bulb, if they survive at all. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2009

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 12787 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Electrodes inserted into certain parts of the brain — in a technique known as deep brain stimulation — can stimulate the growth of new neurons that are used in memory formation, according to research in mice. The findings show that artificially created neurons can be fully functional — a topic of hot debate in the neuroscience community. Knowing that the cells are functional, rather than just useless growths, is a boost for those seeking to use the treatment against Alzheimer's disease and other memory-degeneration disorders. "I'm hoping to help people who have difficulty remembering things," says Scellig Stone, a neurosurgery resident and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. One of Stone's supervisors, Paul Frankland of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, presented the results at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience in Vancouver, Canada, on 25 May. In his study, Stone electrically stimulated part of the limbic system in the brains of mice for an hour. Rodent brains normally produce thousands of new neurons a day; by 3–5 days after the procedure, the electrical stimulation had doubled that. During this time of high neuron growth, the team injected the mice with iododeoxyuridine to label the newly formed cells. Six weeks after the stimulation, the mice were trained to find a platform hidden underwater in a swimming tank. Once the researchers were convinced the mice had learned the task, they examined their brains, looking for a protein called Fos. Fos is produced only by active cells, and takes around 90 minutes to form, so the team could time their examination to pinpoint neurons that had been used explicitly in the memory task. They found that the new neurons had the same level of Fos and were therefore just as active as other, older neurons. "These new neurons aren't just sitting around doing nothing," says Stone. © 2009 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 12898 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Helen Thomson Adult human brain cells can generate new tissue when implanted into in the brains of mice, new research reveals. The findings could pave the way to new therapies for a host of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, the researchers say. Furthermore, lab tests show that the mature brain cells have the versatility to divide many times in culture and develop into a wide range of specialised cell types. Researchers at the University of Florida, US, showed for the first time that common human brain cells are adaptable and self-renewing – qualities normally associated with stem cells. Dennis Steindler and his colleagues transplanted adult human brain cells into mice and found that they could successfully generate new neurons and incorporate themselves in a variety of brain regions. The researchers also coaxed a single adult brain cell to divide into millions of new cells in culture. “We can, theoretically, take a single brain cell out of a human being and generate enough brain cells to replace every cell of the donor’s brain,” says Steindler. The new source of human brain cells could be used to repair or replace damaged tissue in degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the researchers suggest. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 9240 - Posted: 06.24.2010