Adding newborn brain cells to an aging brain can improve memory and decision-making, according to a new study. Adult mice with newborn neurons in the hippocampus, which governs memory and learning, were better able to distinguish between similar events and make better-informed choices. Combined with exercise over a period of time, adding new neurons even had anti-depressant effects, the study says.
Researchers at Columbia University engineered mice to produce a surplus of new neurons in the hippocampus. They found the mice were superb at learning to discriminate between experiences, which typically gets harder with age and with some anxiety disorders. Specifically, the mice were better able to differentiate between a chamber where they got a foot shock and a similar-looking chamber where they were safe.
Adult brains make new neurons all the time, a process called neurogenesis, but many of them don't survive; certain diseases, like Alzheimer's, inhibit their growth and function. Neuron creation can impact moods and learning abilities, so drugs that can boost their creation could be useful treatments for depression, anxiety and memory problems.
To enhance the mice brains, researchers led by Columbia neuroscience and pharmacology professor René Hen and postgraduate researcher Amar Sahay turned off a gene that kills new neurons in the adult brain, giving the mice a proliferation of new brain cells. This led to improved pattern separation, like distinguishing between the good and bad chambers. Treatments like this could be effective for things like post-traumatic stress disorder, Hen said in a Columbia news release — PTSD patients experience fear and other emotions when they are reminded of a similar bad experience.
"Even though I may remember 9/11, when I see an airplane over New York City, I am able to recognize that it's a different situation and process it accordingly, while someone in the same situation with PTSD may re-experience the traumatic memory of 9/11 and have a panic attack," Hen said. Novel neurons could help the PTSD patient separate the events, Hen added.
The mice with enhanced neurogenesis abilities didn't show any outward anti-anxiety behavior — like exploring potentially dangerous situations — until they got some exercise: four weeks of running on hamster wheels.
The research suggests that combined with exercise, drugs that allow improved neurogenesis could help improve cognitive function — an interesting treatment for anything from neurodegenerative disorders to simple anxiety.
Could turning off the neuron killing gene in the brain result in a higher risk of brain cancer?
@quantumwarrior consdieing cancer is still one of the biggest mysteries known to man. I would say this to your question: no one alive today has any idea either way. your question will no doubt be answered one day but will require plenty of testing and years and years of follow up to see if cancer develops.
This is a rather frighting and VERY hopeful line of research. it could have some GREAT benifits for mental health. but it seems this could be used to aid and speed up our evolution greatly. i can see it now. each generation "grows" a new batch of smarter and smarter generations of "humans." I am not saying that is a bad thing, maybe that is what god ment for us all along. give us a tool (brain) that we may one day truly unlock the the codes to ourselves and take control of our own evolution one day.
This concerns me a bit... Let's say for the sake of argument that this doesn't cause cancer. Let's then say I'm a billionaire and you are the homeless guy down under a nearby bridge. I pump myself, my wife, and my kids full of these things. You don't have the money. That's the problem with fundamentally changing people. I'm a political conservative, but even so, people complain about class warfare now....
In my opinion, we need to focus on ways to fix genetic problems, not create something that would mean to stay competitive, you'd have to take it. College is already expensive. This would accomplish a similar thing.
I'm not saying curing those problems is bad, heck, my grandmother has alzheimer's and my closest friend who is a girl (aside my girlfriend) has anxiety issues. Im just concerned with what happens when the general population starts taking this...
Volt, technology is evolution. The people who use the technology of their day are the ones that survive and thrive and reproduce. The ones that don't die and don't reproduce. Modifying our selves and our brains is what IS going to happen. There really won't be a debate.
Pinky: Gee, Brain. What are we going to do tonight?
The Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.
I for one welcome our superiorly intelligent rodent overlords.
Huh. I read something a few months back about a drug that increases IQ substantially. And now this one improves cognitive function by actually keeping brain cells alive longer. Combine the two (and account for any interactions) and we have a society in which what would now be considered "super geniuses" are the norm, and currently-average people are "mentally challenged".
Sign me up! I want these drugs! As long as it's not called Zydrate...
-IMP ;) :)
The Sixth Sense - New GROUNDBREAKING Book in 2012! The Sixth Sense leads to Enlightenment
DNA Healing Code - Hardwired in ALL Humans
As an example of what I mean by “Groundbreaking” info that can be found in the 2012 release of my new book on The Sixth Sense (not yet titled )…..
There is a sequence required to communicate with Infinite Intelligence – to gain insight and/or much more complicated yet achievable, HolisticDNA Energy Healing. The sequence required is on multiple simultaneous levels, not just “step by step” like an instruction manual for assembling a piece of furniture.
The “Key” sequence has to do with applying known facts, beliefs, emotions and faith (not religious) – if not applied exactly as detailed, the Sixth Sense will remain dormant, and not be “activated”. As an example:
in theory --
you won’t find this in any existing text, which is why The Sixth Sense is so rarely utilized and hard to confirm. This will allow the Scientific Community to experiment and confirm my claims — remember, just a few decades ago, it was impossible to have a Man walk on the moon. Time for the next impossible to be challenged and confirmed — real
Steve Meyer HolisticDNA