Hippocampal neurogenesis and pattern separation: A meta-analysis of behavioral data

Hippocampus. 2017 Sep;27(9):937-950. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22746. Epub 2017 Jun 20.


The generation of new neurons in the hippocampus of adult mammals has become a widely accepted phenomenon, but the functional significance of the adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus is not fully understood. One of the main hypotheses currently investigated suggests that neurogenesis contributes to pattern separation in the dentate gyrus. Many behavioral studies were conducted aiming to test this hypothesis using rodents as animal model. In those studies, researches ablated neurogenesis in the animals and subsequently evaluate them in tests of behavioral pattern separation, that is, behaviors that are thought to rely on the computational process of pattern separation. The results of these studies are varied, with most supporting a role for neurogenesis in pattern separation, but some others not. To address this controversy we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating the effect of neurogenesis ablation on behavioral pattern separation. Analysis results indicated that most of the literature in the topic is surprisingly consistent and, although there are two studies with divergent results, the bulk of the literature supports an effect of hippocampal neurogenesis on behavioral pattern separation. We discuss those findings in light of other behavioral effects of hippocampal neurogenesis ablation, limitations of behavioral data and other lines of evidence about the effect of hippocampal neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus.

Keywords: adult neurogenesis; behavioral pattern separation; dentate gyrus; hippocampal formation; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Databases, Bibliographic / statistics & numerical data
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*