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Neurogenesis in the Emotion-Processing Centre of the Brain



By Dhanisha Jhaveri

The generation of neurons during adulthood can affect our behaviour and alter our mood, so the discovery that this occurs in the amygdala could lead to new strategies for the treatment of anxiety-related disorders.

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The discovery that some parts of the adult brain continue to generate new neurons has revolutionised our understanding of brain plasticity and opened up new remedial opportunities. However, whether this process occurs throughout the adult brain or is restricted to specific regions is still the subject of debate.

A new study has now added the amygdala, which controls fear and emotional memories, to the list of areas in which adult neurogenesis occurs. These findings not only advance our understanding of brain plasticity but may also lead to better treatments for anxiety-related disorders.

The Rise, Fall and Revival of Adult Neurogenesis

Adult neurogenesis has long been a highly debated topic in neuroscience, with the dogma “no new neurons in the adult brain” prevailing for the majority of last century. The strong belief among neuroscientists was that neuronal production in the brain stopped shortly after birth and that the neuronal circuitry in the adult brain was hard-wired and immutable.

This theory was challenged a little more than 50 years ago by Joseph Altman, who provided the first evidence that new neurons are indeed generated in the adult rodent brain. However, his discovery was largely discounted due to failed attempts by others in the field to replicate his findings.

Almost 30 years later pioneering studies led by Perry...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.