March 15, 2009

Saving new brain cells

Interesting article in the new Scientific American: Saving new brain cells by Tracey L. Shors (photo), neuroscience professor at Rutgers University, NJ. Here are the key concepts of the article:

  • Thousands of new cells are generated in the adult brain every day (neurogenesis), particularly in the hippocampus, a structure involved in learning and memory.
  • Within a couple of weeks, most of those neurons will die, unless the animal is challenged to learn something new. Learning -especially that involving a great deal of effort (effortful learning) - can keep these new neurons alive.
  • Although the neurons do not seem to be necessary of learning, they may play a role in predicting the future based on past experience. Enhancing neurogenesis might therefore help slow cognitive decline and keep healthy brains fit.

Also read: Challenge

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