Traditional views maintain that the generation of neurons within the mammalian brain is restricted to a discrete developmental period. This perspective has undergone significant revision during the later half of this century, culminating recently with the demonstration of neurogenesis in the brains of adult primates, including humans. Although it is becoming increasingly clear that adult neurogenesis represents an important mode of structural modification for the adult brain, its functional significance has not been determined. The production and survival of new neurons in the adult mammalian brain is regulated by both experiential and neuroendocrine factors, suggesting that adult-generated neurons may serve as a substrate by which these cues influence normal brain function. This article reviews significant advances that have led to the discovery of neurogenesis in adult mammals and examines comparative data suggesting that adult neurogenesis may play a role in certain forms of learning. Neural activity associated with behavioral experience is known to result in changes in brain structure and connectivity, for example, by modifying synapse number, axonal sprouting, dendrite length and branching, or synaptic strength. In the case of adult neurogenesis, experience may shape neural networks by directing the production and connectivity of whole cell populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Dentate gyrus
- Neural plasticity