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Neurogenesis: how are new neurons created?

Neurogenesis: how are new neurons created?

May 6, 2024

It is known the fact that certain experiences and habits kill neurons . Drinking alcohol, suffering blows to the head, following an inadequate diet and a long etcetera of situations translates into casualties among the neuronal population of our brain, which means that every day we could be losing a few nerve cells.

Neurogenesis: the process of neuronal regeneration

However, not everything is death and destruction in the daily life of the typical adult human brain: there is also the birth of new neurons, a phenomenon known as neurogenesis .

Neurogenesis, changing the conception of the brain

For many years it has been believed that the human brain is an artifact that develops during the first months of life and, when reaching adulthood, stops changing. This conception of the brain left the door open to believe that the only possible modifications in our nervous system come through the death of neurons. Obviously, the brain of a person changes after an extirpation of a part of the neocortex, just as it is not exactly the same after having suffered a small effusion.

However, neurogenesis is a sign that the brain continues to form once childhood has been left behind . The birth of new cells by neurogenesis, which has been found in an area of ​​a brain structure called the hippocampus and around the lateral ventricles filled with cerebrospinal fluid, means that at any moment new neurons may appear and after a few days they will migrate to other neurons. parts of the brain.

What is neurogenesis for?

The things that happen in the brain at the microscopic level are always very difficult to study, and the phenomenon of neurogenesis is no exception. We know that new neurons appear in adult humans, but we do not know very well in what situations they appear or exactly what they are for . However, in general terms most neuroscientists agree that the birth of new nerve cells plays a role in the brain plasticity , that is, the ability of the brain to adapt to new experiences and change over time.

The case of neurogenesis in the hippocampus is especially interesting in this regard. This brain structure acts as a hinge between present experiences and memory, and that is why it is fundamental in the formation of memories and learning. The birth of more neurons in this part of the brain could mean a greater ability to unite past and present, that is, to better adapt to an environment based on previous knowledge. As past experiences form predictors of the future, it is adaptive that the hippocampus has always prepared new neurons

If brain plasticity concerns the practically infinite combinatorial possibilities with which neurons send signals to each other, neurogenesis adds more carbon to this entire succession of changes, since makes more neurons in play, compensating to some extent the effects of neuronal death .

In what contexts are new neurons born?

Neurogenesis not only affects the processing of novel experiences: it is also subject to the changes experienced by the organism in real time. Some situations potentiate the birth of neurons, while others put a brake on it. Of course, it is very complicated to define exactly which situations are the ones that facilitate neurogenesis and which are not, since the infinity of experiences that each one of us can have and the individual differences that exist between us complicate this study a lot.

However, in general terms it can be said that stress, sedentary life and sleep deprivation reduce the appearance of neurons, while the practice of voluntary exercise, exposure to cognitively stimulating environments and in general goal-oriented behaviors boost neurogenesis .

Tips to boost neurogenesis

All this, translated into daily life, means that to enhance neurogenesis in your hippocampus you should:

  • Sleep well and enough hours to not feel tired the rest of the day.
  • Do moderate exercise and, in general, keep boredom at bay. Neurogenesis seems to be geared toward adaptive ends, so try to set yourself realistic goals that you find interesting.
  • Do not expose yourself to more sources of stress than you can handle and make sure it does not affect you too much. You can try doing meditation.

They are simple steps and relatively easy to follow. The complicated processes of your brain will now be occupied with the complicated .

Regenerating Neurons | Science: Out of the Box (May 2024).

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