Neurons vs. Germline: A War of Hormetic Tradeoffs

Curr Aging Sci. 2017;10(4):242-245. doi: 10.2174/1874609810666170413123547.


The process of human ageing is significantly dependent upon events which are currently shaping humanity. One such event is the seemingly inexorable progress of technology, and specifically, digital communications technology. Technology and biology are tightly interconnected, and this has a direct relevance on how our own ageing mechanisms are evolving and adapting to the change. One way technology may affect biological ageing is based on the concept of information exposure which acts as a hormetic stimulus and up-regulates neuronal stress response pathways. In this way, neurons become increasingly more likely to acquire repair resources and function for longer, with a consequent overall improvement in healthy lifespan. At the same time, germline repair mechanisms may need to be downgraded in order to accommodate a tradeoff: a corresponding escalation of repairs in neurons. In this Opinion paper, it is discussed that how a meaningful and intentional integration with technology, which hormetically challenges our cognition, may redress the conflict for resources between the soma and the germline, and result in a reduction of age-related dysfunction in the subjects.

Keywords: Human evolution; cognition; hormesis; neuron; resource trade-offs; soma-germline conflict; stress response.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging* / metabolism
  • Aging* / pathology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Cognition*
  • Computers*
  • Environment*
  • Hormesis*
  • Humans
  • Industrial Development*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Degeneration* / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration* / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration* / physiopathology
  • Nerve Degeneration* / psychology
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Stress, Physiological