Neurons in the Adult Brain still divide!

Medical Genetics

Cover of Neuroscience

Neuroscience. 2nd edition.

Generation of Neurons in the Adult Brain

It has long been known that mature, differentiated neurons do not divide (see Chapter 22). It does not follow, however, that all the neurons that make up the adult brain are produced during embryonic development, even though this interpretation has generally been assumed. The merits of this assumption were questioned in the 1980s, when Fernando Nottebohm and colleagues at Rockefeller University demonstrated the production of new neurons in the brains of adult songbirds. They showed that labeled DNA precursors injected into adult birds could be found subsequently in fully differentiated neurons, indicating that the neurons had undergone their final round of cell division after the labeled precursor was injected. Moreover, the new neurons were able to extend dendrites and project long axons to establish appropriate connections with other brain nuclei. Production of new neurons was apparent in many parts of…

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