New neurons are generated in the adult hippocampus throughout life by neural stem/progenitor cells (NSCs), and neurogenesis is a plastic process responsive to external stimuli. We show that canonical Notch signaling through RBP-J is required for hippocampal neurogenesis. Notch signaling distinguishes morphologically distinct Sox2(+) NSCs, and within these pools subpopulations can shuttle between mitotically active or quiescent. Radial and horizontal NSCs respond selectively to neurogenic stimuli. Physical exercise activates the quiescent radial population whereas epileptic seizures induce expansion of the horizontal NSC pool. Surprisingly, reduced neurogenesis correlates with a loss of active horizontal NSCs in aged mice rather than a total loss of stem cells, and the transition to a quiescent state is reversible to rejuvenate neurogenesis in the brain. The discovery of multiple NSC populations with Notch dependence but selective responses to stimuli and reversible quiescence has important implications for the mechanisms of adaptive learning and also for regenerative therapy.