Subscribe to Random Encounters

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Posts

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Comments Add to Technorati Favorites

What does subscribe mean?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Myth Busting Monday - No New Brain Cells

MYTH: Adults don't grow new brain cells

I have watched a lot of tv shows lately that delve into the structure and function on the human body; one of the things that I found interesting was that they pointed out that you are born with all the muscle fibers you will ever have, although the fibers may get bigger or smaller new fibers cannot be grown. Examples like this might lead one to believe that a person is born with all the brains cells they will ever have but studies have shown that neurons in the brain grow and change during the adult years. I remember growing and some times enjoying the smell of gas a little too much while filling up the car and thinking that I have a few less brain cells now. Although it may be true that brain cells are lost during such activities, I find hope in the knowledge that I can grow new ones to replace the ones I lost during 'mindless' activities. Here are some quotes from the internet 'tubes' that support the notion of growing new brain cells.

Much of a human's crucial brain development happens during childhood, but it isn't all downhill from there. Studies have shown that neurons continue to grow and change well into the adult years. [source]
Research with mice discovered these results:
The researchers found that while pyramidal neurons didn't exhibit any structural changes—which is consistent with previous reports—a group of inhibitory neurons called "interneurons"did.

The researchers estimate that on average, about 14 percent of the interneurons they observed showed structural modifications.

Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the neurons in the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher functions such as thought, are made up of inhibitory interneurons. These neurons are believed to play an important role in regulating brain activity by delaying or blocking signals from excitatory neurons. [source]

Other research done with rhesus monkeys resulted this way:
Elizabeth Gould and Charles Gross performed their research on rhesus monkeys, whose brain structure is very similar to that of humans. They found that neurogenesis -- the formation of new nerve cells -- takes place in several different regions of the cortex that are crucial for cognitive and perceptual functions. The cerebral cortex is the most complex region of the brain and is responsible for high-level decision making and for learning about the world. The results strongly suggest that the same process occurs in humans. Their report is published in the Oct. 15, 1999 issue of Science. [source]
This discovery of new brain cell growth has opened up new possibilities for combating brain degenerating deceases.
While the adult brain was once thought to be a mostly static structure, scientists have discovered in recent years that some parts of the brain -- most notably, the hippocampus, an area involved in learning and memory, and the subventricular zone, which lines one of the brain's fluid-filled cavities -- continually produce neurons, especially after injury."We know new cells are made and go to the site of new injury, whether it's stroke or Parkinson's or Alzheimer's," says David Greenberg, a neuroscientist at the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, CA."One strategy to treat neurodegeneration is to boost this response." [source]
As research on brain activity and growth continues I am sure there will be more information about ways to keep our brains active and growing. The first time I was introduced to a sudoku puzzle my wife's mom told me that those puzzles are good for brain activity and preventing Alzheimer's; I don't know about the whole preventing Alzheimer's thing but one thing that I have noticed through a lot of my reading on this subject has suggested to keep your mind active through activities like phsyical exercise and mind puzzles to help keep the mind healthy.

So the final verdict on this myth is that adults can grow new brain cells

Conclusion: False

What are your thoughts about this myth, let us know in the comments

If you like this post consider Subscribing to my full feed

Related Posts


Rob said...

I believe that keeping mentally active does indeed help to prevent Alzheimer's. And I think there's also a real connection with having a purpose. The older folks I know who are mentally (and physically) active seem to be holding up far better. Conversely, older folks who are mentally stagnant or don't feel like they have a purpose seem less 'sharp.'

Anonymous said...

this is the coolest blog ever
maui lawyer

i agree with rob