New neurons continue to be generated in the dentate gyrus throughout life, providing this region of the hippocampus with exceptional structural plasticity, but the function of this ongoing neurogenesis is unknown. Inhibition of adult neurogenesis produces some behavioral impairments that suggest a role for new neurons in learning and memory; however, other behavioral changes appear inconsistent with this function. A review of studies investigating the function of the hippocampus going back several decades reveals many ideas that seem to converge on a critical role for the hippocampus in stress response and emotion. These potential hippocampal functions provide new avenues for investigating the behavioral functions of adult neurogenesis. And, conversely, studies in animals lacking adult neurogenesis, which are likely to have more limited and more specific impairments than are seen with lesions, may provide valuable new insights into the function of the hippocampus. A complete understanding of the function of the hippocampus must explain its role in emotion and the relationship between its emotional and memory functions.
Keywords: behavior; emotion; granule cells; hippocampus; stress.