A team of researchers studied brains of recently deceased people and found evidence of neurogenesis in people aged 87.
There was been considerable speculation among researchers regarding neurogenesis. Do new neurons are generated in the brain, how long they persist, and in which area of the brain does neurogenesis take place are the key points that scientists do not commonly agree on. Past research has focused on the hippocampus (the part of the brain that is actively involved in storing memory) as researchers believed it would require new neurons to enable storage of new memories. Furthermore, the hippocampus is the part of the brain that is most vulnerable to memory-debilitating disorders such as the Alzheimer's disease. However, a research carried out last year concluded that neurogenesis is limited to childhood, and does not occur past that.
In the current study, researchers have found that neurogenesis, does in fact, continue right into old age. Researchers focused on a protein called doublecortin which is contained within neurons in the early stage of development. The team analyzed brains of recently deceased corpses by extracting thin slices of brain material from the hippocampus, and examined them under a microscope for signs of doublecortin. The observations found numerous instances of doublecortin, which suggested that new neuronal growth was occurring in the brains of people who had died between the ages of 43 to 87.
The team also conducted the same tests on people with Alzheimer's and found very few examples of neurogenesis which suggests that the disease not only robs people of old memories, but also stops them from forming new ones. It is worth noting, however, that the researchers followed a stringent techniques of corpse preservation, which could be a reason for a difference in this year’s observations compared to last year.
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