How does aging affect the brain

Think Our brain also renews itself with age

Lifelong hippocampal neurogenesis is how the researchers working with Guo-li Ming and Hongjun Song from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania describe the results of their study, which were published in the journal "Cell". The team had carried out research with mice and found that there are a number of so-called neuronal precursor cells in the hippocampus that help ensure that neurogenesis is possible throughout our lives, i.e. new neurons can develop.

So our brain has the ability "to continuously improve, adapt and integrate new cells," says Hongjun Song.

This turns out to be very important because the hippocampus is known to be important for learning, memory, and mood regulation.

Hongjun Song University of Pennsylvania

Earlier studies had already shown, Song continued, that certain parts of the brain such as the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus can form neurons. The research team from the University of Pennsylvania has now succeeded for the first time in demonstrating that this process lasts a lifetime. "If we could use this ability and mechanism, we could possibly also repair and regenerate parts of the brain," says lead author of the study, Guo-li Ming.

New nerve cells against Alzheimer's?

The new study by researchers at the Autonomous University of Madrid shows the importance of the formation of new neurons in Alzheimer's research. For their study, the neuroscientists used hippocampal tissue samples from 13 healthy people and 45 Alzheimer's patients who had given their brains to science after death. Result: In the brains of healthy patients, they found thousands of differently developed neurons that enable neurogenesis. They were even present in subjects aged 90 years, albeit in slightly decreasing numbers.

In contrast, the samples from Alzheimer's patients showed that the ability to form new neurons decreased more and more as the disease progressed. According to the researchers in their publication in the journal "Nature", this proves that the impairment of neurogenesis is an important mechanism underlying the memory deficits in Alzheimer's disease. Conversely, this means that if we understand and can influence the process, new therapeutic strategies against dementia may emerge.