A new study has found that the human brain continues to produce new brain cells beyond adolescence.
For decades now, scientists had believed that the human brain would stop producing new neurons when once mature.
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However, older people grow as many new brain cells as teenagers, a study by Columbia University published in the journal Cell Stem Cell claims.
Neurons continue to be produced in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that deals with memory, emotions and cognition – at the same rate as in young people, even after adolescence, while it was previously believed that the brain was programmed not to.
The brains of 28 healthy people between the ages of 14 and 79, who suffered from sudden deaths, were examined for the study.
The study’s lead author, associate professor of neurobiology Maura Boldrini, told reporters that
“we found that older people have similar ability to make thousands of hippocampal new neurons from progenitor cells as younger people do,” said the study’s lead author Maura Boldrini, associate professor of neurobiology.”
She added, “we also found equivalent volumes of the hippocampus across ages.”
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While neurogenesis, the ability to produce new neurons is known to decline with age in rodents and primates, it simply doesn’t in humans.
Scientists believed that generation of brain cells and shrinkage of parts of brain happened with age, but the Columbia University study found similar amounts of newly formed neurons in both old and young brains.