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Boosting adult neurogenesis to enhance sensory performance

22:55 EDT 15 Mar 2019 | Nature Publishing

Although most mammalian neurons are born prenatally, there are at least a couple of specialised niches in the adult rodent brain that continually generate new neurons throughout life. The potential functions conferred by this process of adult neurogenesis, however, remain obscure, despite a sizeable literature exploring the links between alterations in neurogenic capacity and changes in behavioural ability. A new study by Bragado Alonso et al (2019) offers a novel viewpoint on this question by describing a particularly clean way to manipulate adult neurogenesis. Specifically altering cell cycle dynamics in adult neural stem cells leads to an increase in new-born neuron production without altering those extra cells’ morphological or functional properties. Moreover, mice with boosted adult neurogenesis are significantly better at discriminating highly similar sensory stimuli.

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