Old age in the head: until what age does the brain produce new neurons?

A group of scientists from several Spanish institutesfound evidence of neurogenesis (the emergence of new neurons) in the brain of people up to extreme old age. In their article, published in the journal Nature Medicine, the group describes brain studies of recently deceased people and their findings. Scientists have been arguing over how old the brain is generating new neurons for the past few years — how and in what parts of the brain this happens.

Many studies in this area have beenfocused on the hippocampus, because this part of the brain is most involved in the storage of memories - logic suggests that new memories without new neurons will not be able to manage, they will need to be stored somewhere. In addition, the hippocampus is one of the brain structures that is damaged due to memory-plundering diseases like Alzheimer's. Last year, an international team of scientists concluded that neurogenesis ceased in the hippocampus after childhood.

In their new work, scientists report that they have proved the opposite: in fact, neurogenesis continues until extreme old age.

Scientists: Neurogenesis lasts up to 87 years

Previous studies have shown that earlyIn the developmental stages, neurons contain doublecortin protein, which can be seen under a microscope. Studies in Spain relied heavily on this information. Scientists studied the corpses of recently deceased people (within 10 after death) and examined them under a microscope for signs of doublecortin.

Scientists report that they have found numerous examples.doublecortin cells, which showed that the growth of new neurons occurred in the brain of people who died between the ages of 43 and 87 years. Remarkably, the same tests were performed on people who had Alzheimer's disease, and there were very few examples of neurogenesis. This suggests that the disease not only deprives people of old memories, but also prevents them from forming new ones.

Researchers also point out that they useda more rigorous approach to the preservation of corpses than in previous works, and this could explain the difference in the results. However, as long as there is no definitive answer to the question of how old the brain is able to form new neurons, this is only the first step to clarification.

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