Hippocampus-dependent learning promotes survival of new neurons in the dentate gyrus at a specific time during cell maturation

Neuroscience. 2007 Oct 26;149(2):273-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.07.046. Epub 2007 Aug 10.


Adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus continues throughout life and may play an important role in hippocampus-dependent learning and memory. Previous research has been equivocal, demonstrating that spatial learning may enhance, decrease or not significantly affect the survival of new neurons. A potential cause of these varying results may be differences in when bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) was administered relative to spatial training. We examined whether the time elapsed between BrdU administration and spatial learning would alter the survival of the labeled cells. We injected rats with BrdU once on day 0 and then trained in the standard place version of the Morris water task on days 1-5, 6-10 or 11-15 after BrdU injection. We found an enhancement of neurogenesis in the hippocampus only when BrdU was administered 6 days prior to the beginning of spatial training. There was no significant change in hippocampal neurogenesis for groups that started training either 1 or 11 days following BrdU administration. This suggests that a critical period exists in the development of new neurons during which time their survival may be altered by activation of the hippocampus. Furthermore, when dividing rats into poor versus good learners based on overall performance using a median split, only poor place learners and not good place learners exhibit increased hippocampal neurogenesis compared with cue learning, collapsed across time of training. These findings provide further evidence of a link between learning and adult neurogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cues
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology*
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Individuality
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Antimetabolites
  • DNA
  • Bromodeoxyuridine