Humans continue to produce new neurons in a part of their brain involved in learning, memory and emotion throughout adulthood, scientists have revealed, countering previous theories that production stopped after adolescence. The findings could help in developing treatments for neurological conditions such as dementia.
Many new neurons are produced in the hippocampus in babies, but it has been a matter of hot debate whether this continues into adulthood – and if so, whether this rate drops with age as seen in mice and nonhuman primates.
Although some research had found new neurons in the hippocampus of older humans, a recent study scotched the idea, claiming that new neurons in the hippocampus were at undetectable levels by our late teens.
Now another group of scientists have published research that pushes back, revealing the new neurons are produced in this brain region in human adults and does not drop off with age. The findings, they say, could help in the hunt for ways to treat conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to psychiatric problems.