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Adult Neurogenesis

Author(s): Tadzia GrandPré, PhD

Regulation of Adult Neurogenesis

Neurogenesis is a dynamic process. A variety of conditions have been shown to regulate the rate at which new neurons are generated, and also their migration, integration into the existing circuitry of the brain, and likelihood of survival. For example, many factors that enhance sensory, cognitive, and motor stimulation, such as physical exercise, increase the number of adult-generated neurons in the hippocampus (which is involved in certain types of learning and memory). Newly generated neurons in the olfactory bulb (which is involved in the sense of smell) have an increased chance of survival when mice are exposed to an odor-enriched environment. It has also been shown that certain kinds of learning can increase the survival rate of new neurons in both the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb. In contrast, virtually any type of stress can inhibit the production of new neurons in the hippocampus. The rate of neurogenesis in both the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb also naturally decreases with age.