Jan 24, 2019

Neuroscientists May Finally Know Whether the Adult Brain Can Grow New Cells

Posted by in category: neuroscience

In the new paper, Jason Snyder, Ph.D., a University of British Columbia behavioral neuroscientist, argues that if you take a close look at all the studies on animals from mice to humans, the facts are quite clear: Animals probably don’t develop significant amounts of new brain cells as we enter adulthood. There’s still hope for some neurogenesis, but not a huge amount.

“In some respects, it’s just one of the things that humanity has always hoped for — staying young,” he tells Inverse. “So I think it’s been disconcerting that there might not be as many of these young cells that are malleable, that are adaptive, that are capable of learning earlier in life. Of course we want those things to be there, but I think that introduces some bias.”

To be clear, Snyder doesn’t argue that the field is biased. Instead, his argument is based on the analysis of past studies that have looked into this topic in humans, primates, and mice. There he admits that there’s been some confusion — some studies seem to show that the brain can continue to develop new cells later in life, while others show that it can’t. Specifically, he says that it’s been hard to let go of the idea of neurogenesis because of the results of animal studies (many on mice) “demonstrating persistent neurogenesis throughout life.”

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