Adult hippocampal neurogenesis in natural populations of mammals

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2015 May 1;7(5):a021295. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a021295.


This review will discuss adult hippocampal neurogenesis in wild mammals of different taxa and outline similarities with and differences from laboratory animals. It begins with a review of evidence for hippocampal neurogenesis in various mammals, and shows the similar patterns of age-dependent decline in cell proliferation in wild and domesticated mammals. In contrast, the pool of immature neurons that originate from proliferative activity varies between species, implying a selective advantage for mammals that can make use of a large number of these functionally special neurons. Furthermore, rapid adaptation of hippocampal neurogenesis to experimental challenges appears to be a characteristic of laboratory rodents. Wild mammals show species-specific, rather stable hippocampal neurogenesis, which appears related to demands that characterize the niche exploited by a species rather than to acute events in the life of its members. Studies that investigate adult neurogenesis in wild mammals are not numerous, but the findings of neurogenesis under natural conditions can provide new insights, and thereby also address the question to which cognitive demands neurogenesis may respond during selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis*