Navigation Links
Brain cell growth diminishes long before old age strikes, animal study shows
Date:10/15/2007

Even early in adulthood, aging begins to slow the mind's growth -- but it does not have to stop it altogether, suggests a Princeton University study on the brains of adult monkeys.

A team of neuroscientists has found that soon after marmoset monkeys reach adulthood, the rate at which new neural cells form in the hippocampus region of the animals' brains begins to decline. The hippocampus is associated with both learning and memory. While other research groups have made similar observations in the brains of rodents, this is the first time the decrease in new cell growth, known as neurogenesis, has been noted in a primate, the biological order that also includes apes and humans.

That the hippocampus shows such a decrease in neurogenesis long before the onset of old age would appear at first to be utterly bad news for the mind. However, team member Elizabeth Gould said the findings nevertheless were encouraging for several reasons, including the implication that researchers might one day find ways of stimulating the human brain to generate neural cells more rapidly at any point in life.

"Past theories have suggested that complex brains, like those in monkeys and humans, undergo no changes in brain structure once adulthood is reached," said Gould, a professor of psychology and co-director of the Program in Neuroscience. "These new findings, however, offer further evidence that the primate brain actually shows a remarkable amount of structural reorganization over time. It declines with age, but it does persist at a lower level. Whatever stimulates these changes can most likely be tapped into and enhanced."

Marmosets, which are found in Central and South America, reach sexual maturity around the age of 18 months, and commonly begin showing the telltale signs of old age -- such as dementia and arthritis -- around the age of 8 years. Gould's team examined the neural cell growth in 17 marmosets of both genders, all of which were between 18 months and 7 years of age. The team found that the younger adults still showed vigorous new cell growth in the hippocampus. But the older the monkey was, the fewer new brain cells had appeared.

"This news isn't entirely negative, though it seems to be at first glance," Gould said. "The silver lining here is that neurogenesis continues long past puberty and does not stop entirely, even in older primates. What's more, it can be stimulated with experience."

For rodents, some of the ways adult neurogenesis can be stimulated are well known: allowing rats to socialize and exercise encourages their neural growth. Researchers believe these methods will work also in primates. One reason why other scientists will find this new study useful, Gould said, is because the discovery adds to the list of changes that have been noted in the brains of both primates and rodents -- the latter of which are the most commonly used creatures in neuroscience experiments.

"This means we can be confident that what we discover about the rodent brain can be applied to primates," she said. "We'd like to do more studies to see if we can find out first what maintains the higher level of neurogenesis in young animals, and then how we can keep it going at that level as the brain ages."

Though Gould cautioned that it would be premature to draw too many hard and fast conclusions about the human brain as a result of the findings, she said the study suggests that methods of maintaining the mind's flexibility do exist.

"Someday we hope this kind of research will help us discover what keeps brain cells growing, so we can both keep our minds vibrant and help people with neurodegenerative illnesses," Gould said. "In the meantime, it's safe to say that staying physically active and providing new experiences for your mind will not hurt. The brain doesn't have to stop growing. It's not over till the last neuron dies."


'/>"/>

Contact: Chad Boutin
cboutin@princeton.edu
609-258-5729
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Controversial drug shown to act on brain protein to cut alcohol use
2. Drug That Tags Decision-making Areas Of The Brain May Aid
3. Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimers plaques are cleared
4. NYU Study Reveals How Brains Immune System Fights Viral Encephalitis
5. Mouse brain tumors mimic those in human genetic disorder
6. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
7. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
8. Transport System Smuggles Medicines Into Brain
9. Bird Brains Show How Trial and Error May Contribute to Learning
10. VCU Researchers Identify Networks Of Genes Responding To Alcohol In The Brain
11. Wiley announces publication of Databasing the Brain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/6/2016)... DALLAS , Dec. 6, 2016 ... criminal justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, ... (PEP) jointly announced today a five (5) year ... exclusive agreement to expand the rehabilitation and reentry ... PEP History Established in 2004, the Prison ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016 Not many of us realize that we ... of recovery so we need to do it well. Inadequate sleep levels have been ... blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. Maybe now is the best ... that could help them to manage their sleep quality? ... ...
(Date:11/29/2016)... Nearly one billion matches per second with DERMALOG,s high-speed AFIS    ... ... DERMALOG is Germany's largest Multi-Biometric supplier: The ... Identification Systems) ... Germany's largest Multi-Biometric supplier: The company's Fingerprint Identification System is part of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/9/2016)... ... December 09, 2016 , ... DuPont Industrial Biosciences ... the Breakthrough Solution of the Year Award from Platts Global Energy for ... The award was announced at the 18th Platts Global Energy Awards, held in ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... ALBANY, New York , December 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Research states that the top five players in the  ... of 62.7% in the overall market in 2015. Players ... and Perkin Elmer have remained dominant in the global ... persistent efforts to ensure product innovation. Product upgrades and ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... Dec. 9, 2016 China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: ... China,s leading provider of cord blood collection, laboratory ... today announced the results of its 2016 Annual General Meeting, ... S.A.R., China . At ... the re-appointment of KPMG Huazhen LLP as the independent auditors ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... India , December 9, 2016 According ... & Services (Primer, Probe, Custom, Predesigned, Reagent Equipment), Application (Research, PCR, ... Forecasts to 2021" published by MarketsandMarkets, the global market is expected ... in 2016, at a CAGR of 10.6% during the forecast period. ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: