What Happens To Those New Brain Cells?

§ May 7th, 2009 § Filed under brain research, neuroscience, plasticity § No Comments

Pasteur Institute

Pasteur Institute

A study by the Pasteur Institute shows that new brain cells respond more readily to stimulation and more readily “learn” new skills and information. This enhanced plasticity lasts for about twelve weeks, at which point they become only as plastic as existing brain cells.

This discovery could explain the failure of therapeutic strategies based on grafts, which deliver large quantities of new neurons that then lose their special properties very quickly.

Scientists have also demonstrated that, two weeks after their formation, only 50% of these new cells succeed in integrating into neuronal circuits – an essential condition for their survival.

In the 1990s, grafts for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease brought about only a temporary recovery of motor ability. If new neurons demonstrate significant properties only for a few weeks, attempts at recovering certain cerebral functions by relying solely on the grafting of cells can never be successful. It would be better to look towards stimulating the brain’s natural capacity to produce neurons continuously.


- Neurogenesis promotes synaptic plasticity in the adult olfactory bulb, Nature Neurosciences, published online on May 3d, 2009.

Antoine Nissant, Cedric Bardy, Hiroyuki Katagiri, Kerren Murray & Pierre-Marie Lledo
Institut Pasteur, Perception and Memory unit, CNRS, URA 2182, 25 rue du Dr. Roux, F-75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.

-  Mouret A, Gheusi G, Gabellec MM, de Chaumont F, Olivo-Marin JC et Lledo P-M. Learning and survival of newly generated neurons: when time matters. J. Neurosci. 28, 11511-16, 2008

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