News of the WeekNeurobiology

Death Leads to Brain Neuron Birth

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Science  23 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5474, pp. 2111-2112
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5474.2111a

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Although scientists have provided mounting evidence in the past few years that new neurons can be produced in some areas of the adult brain, the neocortex--the region most concerned with such higher brain functions as memory and learning--did not seem capable of such regeneration. Now, in the 22 June issue of Nature, neuroscientists report that when they induced certain neurons in the neocortex of adult mice to self-destruct, the loss triggered the formation of replacement neurons by brain stem cells. If similar regeneration of brain neurons can be triggered in humans, the findings could open the door for treatments that might restore memory in Alzheimer's disease, for example, or undo the damage wreaked by spinal cord injury.