Recalibrating the Relevance of Adult Neurogenesis

Trends Neurosci. 2019 Mar;42(3):164-178. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2018.12.001. Epub 2019 Jan 24.


Conflicting reports about whether adult hippocampal neurogenesis occurs in humans raise questions about its significance for human health and the relevance of animal models. Drawing upon published data, I review species' neurogenesis rates across the lifespan and propose that accelerated neurodevelopmental timing is consistent with lower rates of neurogenesis in adult primates and humans. Nonetheless, protracted neurogenesis may produce populations of neurons that retain plastic properties for long intervals, and have distinct functions depending on when in the lifespan they were born. With some conceptual recalibration we may therefore be able to reconcile seemingly disparate findings and continue to ask how adult neurogenesis, as studied in animals, is relevant for human health.

Keywords: animal models; comparative study; dentate gyrus; development; hippocampus; human; neurogenesis; plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*

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