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At school I was taught that the adult brain did not produce new neurons. That we had the maximum number of neurons and this would only diminish over time due to events, like head injuries, drinking excessive quantities of alcohol, various other processes, not to mention the general atrophy the body experiences through the process of aging.

I remember sitting through a Neuroscience lecture (about 15 years ago), and learning, that studies had shown that whilst exercising enabled the brain to produce new neurons.

What is the latest evidence that the adult brain can produce new neurons?


Please note the link is not to the lecture I refer to.

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Yes, there are some cells that are capable of replicating in your brain. I have read some articles about that recently, but I am unable to find them. I too, was told in the School that brain cells in adults cannot replicate. It was only a few years back. –  Derfder Aug 8 '13 at 18:50
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The progress in genetics, neuroscience, technology is extremely quick when compared with other areas of human activities. –  Derfder Aug 8 '13 at 19:00
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Yes, that's great. Especially for paralyzed people, neurological diseases or people who was born with bad brain tissue or had some accident etc. –  Derfder Aug 8 '13 at 19:05
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

For a comprehensive review, see:

Berg, D.A., Belnoue, L.,Song,H., Simon A. (2013) Neurotransmitter-mediated control of neurogenesis in the adult vertebrate brain. Development, 140(12), 2548-2561. [DOI].

Briefly,

active adult neurogenesis is confined to two distinct locations: the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricles in the forebrain; and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus (DG) in the hippocampus

These areas contain radial glial-like cells, which act as neural stem cells, and the growth of which is modulated by the respective neurotransmitters. For example, cells which are GABAnergic will be modulated (enhanced in the SVZ and inhibited in the DG) via GABA that has diffused out of the synapses of neighboring cells

GABA is released from parvalbumin-expressing interneurons in the adult dentate gyrus (DG) and inhibits the activation of quiescent RGLs through activation of the γ 2-subunit-containing GABA A receptor.

In the SVZ, GABA also signals to and depolarizes neural progenitor cells, but the mechanism of release is different from that in the DG (Wang et al., 2003; Liu et al., 2005). Migrating neuroblasts release GABA in a non-synaptic, non-vesicular fashion, which tonically activates signaling in progenitor cells.

There are mechanisms through which the progenitor cells are stimulated that rely on neurotransmitters, but are not specific to cell subtype:

Neurotransmitters control neurogenesis without subtype specificity. If NSCs have restricted potential, transmitters could act on both NSCs and/or amplifying populations.

It's still a complicated story, but the long and short of it is, in specific regions of the brain, adult neurogenesis is known to be possible and some of the neurotransmitter-based growth factors are now being elucidated.

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@Skippy Feel free to wait for more answers. I've only scratched the surface here, so we can see if someone else knows more about the active research. –  Chuck Sherrington Aug 8 '13 at 19:22
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@Skippy I'm not offended at all. I wouldn't worry about the answers per question statistic, though, it doesn't weigh very heavily on science-oriented sites. –  Chuck Sherrington Sep 10 '13 at 22:23
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