How to regenerate new brain cells

For a long time, the traditional view was that we could not cultivate new brain cells. We are born with all the brain cells we will have, and once these gray cells expire, they will disappear forever.

Part of the reason for this belief is that certain motor (exercise) and cognitive (thinking) functions tend to decline with age. But does this mean that once we get close to a certain age, everything is going downhill, and we have no choice but to wait for the inevitable recession?

Brain cells and hippocampus

Although most of the cells in our brain are formed in the uterus, certain parts of the brain continue to produce new nerve cells during infancy. However, it is only in recent decades that the limited regenerative capacity of the brain has inspired such a belief: Neurogenesis-The birth of new brain cells-stopped shortly after this stage.

However, research done in the past two decades has shown that at least part of the brain continues to create new cells throughout a person’s life.

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In the late 1990s, researchers at Rockefeller University in New York City conducted a study in which marmosets were injected with a tracer chemical that can distinguish between slowly dividing mature brain cells and rapidly dividing brain cells. New brain cells. They found that the hippocampus (the area of ​​the brain related to memory, learning, and emotions) continues to create new cells, regardless of age or time.

Later studies using carbon 14 dating (assessing the age and process of cell development) confirmed that although cells in the hippocampus continue to die, they will soon be replaced by new cells. Only through the formation of these cells can the hippocampus maintain its central function.

It also shows us that the number of new cells and how often they are produced starts to decline with age. That being said, the rate of decline is considered to be inconsistent and may vary from subject to subject.

Research tells us the birth of new brain cells

The above research is considered important because it shows that there are factors that can stimulate and inhibit the neurogenesis process in adults. It even hints at possible models for the treatment of degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and can even reverse the damage caused by traumatic brain injury.

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Among the factors that may “strengthen” this process, exercise is considered an important factor. Early animal studies conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago found that aerobic exercise leads to an increase in hippocampal somatic cell production and an increase in the amount of encoded genetic information. This tells us that not only has the function of the brain improved, but the cells themselves can better store information for learning and memory.

A 2010 study by the University of Pennsylvania stated that aerobic exercise of 120 elderly people increased the actual size of the hippocampus by 2% and effectively reversed the cell loss associated with aging for one to two years.

Exercise your brain

In addition to exercise, scientists have found that a rich learning environment also helps the survival of old cells and the production of new cells. In short, it is recommended that the more times you exercise your brain, the better you will be able to maintain optimal brain function.

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On the other hand, there are some factors that can directly destroy neurogenesis. The most important one is age. For example, we know that by the time many adults are in their 80s, many neural connections in the hippocampus will be lost.

More discoveries

Recently, a new study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco failed to prove the development of new neurons in the hippocampus of nearly 30 adult patients, sparking controversy over whether adult neurogenesis actually occurred.

In the future, research on a large number of patients and the development of technologies that allow imaging of new neurons in the living brain are needed to clearly confirm or refute theories of adult neurogenesis. This ongoing controversy shouldn’t prevent you from doing physical and mental exercise—even if it doesn’t help neurogenesis, its impact on your overall health is undisputed.