English summaries

Lauri Kantola, Tiina Pirttimäki & Miriam S. Nokia

Adult hippocampal neurogenesis facilitates adaptive behavior

New neurons are generated in certain regions of the brain throughout life. One of these structures is the hippocampus, which is needed for learning and memory. This phenomenon is called adult hippocampal neurogenesis and it is promoted by a healthy lifestyle, which thus maintains brain plasticity across the lifespan. Adult neurogenesis is a continuous and slow process: Neural stem cells are constantly proliferating in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Some of the newborn cells differentiate into neural progenitor cells and, eventually, through several stages, within about two months mature into granule cells. Only a fraction of the new granule cells survive and integrate into existing and new functional neural networks. Many functions have been proposed for the new neurons. It is possible that the new granule cells are important in forming separate neural representations of similar, but different events in relation to time and environment. Reduced adult neurogenesis impairs learning, and learning promotes neurogenesis, especially when the task is complex.

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