Purpose of review: Failing adult neurogenesis is increasingly considered a factor in the pathogenesis and course of psychiatric disorders. The level of evidence in favor of such hypotheses varies, but disturbed cellular plasticity in the hippocampus may be a common aspect of several neuropsychiatric diseases.
Recent findings: This review covers the literature from mid-2006 to the end of 2007. We discuss studies and theoretical papers dealing with the contribution of adult neurogenesis to dementias and neurodegeneration, major depression, schizophrenia, and alcohol and drug abuse. Of these disorders, most progress has recently been made with schizophrenia for which, in contrast to the other conditions, suggestive genetic evidence exists (e.g. Disc1, Npas3).
Summary: Failing adult hippocampal neurogenesis may not explain major depression, addiction or schizophrenia, but contributes to the hippocampal aspects of the disease. We propose that the key to a more thorough understanding of this contribution will come from increased knowledge on the functional relevance of new neurons in the hippocampus and better clinical data relating to symptoms possibly related to such function. Research on the molecular basis of adult hippocampal neurogenesis may help to explain how hippocampal aspects of these disorders develop.