News FocusDevelopmental Biology

Newborn Neurons Search for Meaning

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Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 32-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5603.32

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Some brain regions are replenished with new cells throughout life, but researchers aren't sure what the newcomers contribute to the behaviors those brain regions control, which include singing, smelling, and learning. A number of experiments, including one on page 117 that identifies prolactin, a hormone that increases during pregnancy, as a neurogenesis trigger, have suggested that the new neurons might boost learning. The evidence has been correlational, however, and it doesn't all agree.