Neurogenesis refers to the creation of new cells, or neurons in the brain. Although it was once thought that the number of neurons was fixed at birth, recent evidence has now shown that a variety of species, including humans, can grow new neurons in adulthood. There is still a great deal of controversy about how long these new neurons survive, whether the new neurons become completely functional, and whether neurogenesis can occur in all parts of the brain or just in a few specialized areas. Nevertheless, the mere fact that new neurons can be born at all in adult human brains is generating excitement among researchers who wonder if the process can be used to help replace damaged neurons in various disorders like Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and more.
by Catherine E. Myers
Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain