Do Neurons Regenerate?

I was recently discussing brain science with a friend in med school and I happened to mention how neurons can regenerate in the hippocampus. Of course, I got laughed at because everyone knows that we are born with all the gray matter we’ll ever need. Not only is it common knowledge, it’s being taught in medical schools around the world and being printed in the latest textbooks. However, whether the textbook writers know it or not, like so many other dogmas of medicine, this one has been resigned to the dusty, glass display cases of phrenology devices and textbooks on mesmerism.

Though the research leading to this new discovery was a massive collaboration, the most recognized leader in the field is Dr. Elizabeth Gould of Princeton. Here is an excerpt from the Princeton Weekly:

“For the past several decades, scientists believed that brain cells were a finite resource; that unlike other cells in the body, those in the brain did not regenerate. But psychology professor Elizabeth Gould recently proved such is not the case for the hippocampal formation of the brain in Old World monkeys, primates closely related to man. And Fred Gage at the Salk Institute in La Jolla has showed that adult humans also generate new neurons in their hippocampus. These discoveries, along with Gould’s later findings about the relationship between learning and neuronal regeneration, could change the way scientists look at the brain.” Continue reading…

Comments (8):

  1. Matthew

    October 10, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    That’s the wonderful thing about science and medicine. It may take a while to overcome the dogma of the times, but the natural selection of ideas will – in time – prevail.

    Reply
  2. Zack

    October 23, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Perhaps we are already overcoming the dogmas, because at my medical school as well as my undergrad, we are being taught that there are neurons that do indeed regenerate.

    Reply
  3. Matthew

    January 17, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    That’s great news. I think that schools are breaking out of their constricted textbook mode that is always 1 or 2 years behind into a more fluid and up-to-date approach. Information in science and medicine changes faster than textbooks can be printed.

    Reply
  4. Olivier df

    January 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    That’s great news and has a direct implication in the attitude I should have toward my brother who has significant brains damage after a road accident in Bordeaux. Music , positive talking will support this regeneration.

    Reply
  5. alex

    July 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I love you.

    Reply
  6. Julie Roy

    July 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Hi my name is Julie in the year 2000 I was shot and nearly died, the doctors had to take one third of my right side of my brain cells which were dead after being without oxygen for four hours. As the surgeons were operating I went into a stroke which left me paralyzed on my left side, over the years I have looked for ways to improve my brain and strengthen it, but the doctors said that if my neurons regrew or touched I may beable to use my hand again! Who really knows what our bodies can do I literally have been pieced together, I have a piece of my stomach in my throat so I can talk and eat they reversed the tendons on my foot so I can walk.

    Reply
  7. monzurul

    November 12, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful knowledge. I was tought in an advanced course of Neurophysiology that Neurons DON’T regrow! I was confused until i found this note!

    It proves again that we need to correct ourselves. There is nothing worse that learning wrong things! Thanks again for sharing.

    Reply
  8. Doug

    December 4, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I hope so cushings patients need hope.

    Reply

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