Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Neurogensis in the Adult Brain May be More Important Than Previously Thought




When it comes to brain development the common wisdom used be that once you’re an adult you won’t be generating any new neurons so, be careful with the ones you have. Research has since contradicted that, showing new growth of neurons in at least the hippocampus. Growth of new neurons in the hippocampus does make some sense, as it seems to be the area of the brain devoted to memory. Scientists wanted to figure out if any other parts of the brain can generate new neurons. Recent research published in Cell shows where many of these new neurons are being developed and their potential for migration.


Results were obtained by measuring the amount of C14 present in the genetic material of neuronal cells. Since atmospheric C14 levels changed over time, finding those differences in neurons means that new neurons have been generated. The lateral ventricle and hippocampus is where most of these neurons are created. Those created in the lateral ventricle are interneurons, migrating to the adjacent striatum. When the brain isn’t creating these neurons normally the brain becomes diseased.


           The research done shows that patients with Huntington’s disease have decreased or completely absent neuronal regeneration in the striatum. Huntington’s disease is characterized by neurodegeneration and decrease in cognitive ability. This correlation may be an important part of finding the true cause of the disease, and a treatment. Thinking about the generation of new neurons has gone from an unacceptable idea to what may be an integral part of the healthy human brain.


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867414001378




-Stephen O'Brien

5 comments:

  1. How enthralling to find out that some of the neurons actually do generate in adult life. It is amazing that such an important fact about the brain(at least the hippocampus) has gone unnoticed for so long. The potential for not only health benefits of those suffering from neurodegenerative illnesses, etc. but also for brain injuries is now seen more clearly.

    Posted by Michael Dailing

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    1. Considering it is the tool we use to understand the world around us, it is a curious fact that we know so little about our brains. Finding a way to use this knowledge about neurogenesis to help treat brain disorders is critical as some of our most debilitating disorders are those of the brain.

      -SO

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  2. This is a great article! I just have one question, I thought that the brain had plasticity all over and so its always generating new neurons as we grow and have new experiences. Isn't that why patients that have gone through surgery and removal of one the hemispheres and still able to maintain regular function of their body because the remaining hemisphere adapts and modifies itself by creating new connections of neurons to help the body regain its normal functionality.
    -JV

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    1. The plasticity of the brain is in forming new connections, usually not entirely new cells. As far as I know, the repurposing of brain structures after injury is done almost exclusively this way since mature neural cells can't divide.
      -SO

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  3. It's definite that the general population does not know much bout the brain and what it is capable of: I still meet people who believe we "only use 10% of our brains" and believe that computers are the smartest things out there, not things of who created them. So easy to see how the "simple and "mundane" happening of neurogenesis could seen amazing to some in human brains because growth and development is pictured to be tied to adolescent. But it is amazing that the lack of neurogenesis is a big component to Huntington's disease and the application of this study could be used to help those patients.

    Nicole Peterkin

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