New research has shown that the brain of the healthy adult man continues to produce new neurons throughout life.
The study, published Monday in Nature Medicine, is the latest topic on a topic that has divided neuroscientists for decades – if it holds up, it could lay the foundation for new methods of treating diseases ranging from Alzheimer's disease to attacks.
From back to back
Adult human neurogenesis, or the growth of new neurons after birth, has never been fully confirmed or demystified. Many of the studies claiming to find new neuronal growth used a biomarker called BrdU, which indicates the presence of new neurons, but also new glial cells, which develop in the brain but function differently from neurons. Others have found neurogenesis in the brains of people with cancer or stroke, but not in a healthy brain.
The controversy has been so passionate that esteemed scientists on both sides have publicly tried to discredit the work of others whenever new discoveries are published.
But this new study seems to have overcome these obstacles.
"Methodologically, this sets the bar for future studies," said Fred "Rusty" Gage, president of Salk's Institute of Biological Studies. American scientist. "This document is very nice … systematically evaluates all the problems that we all consider very important."
Gage did not work on the new study, but he was part of the team that discovered the neurogenesis in adult man in 1998. His enthusiasm is no less surprising than the skepticism of others.
The scientists behind him had access to 58 brains – much more than most studies – and conducted a thorough analysis. But not everyone is convinced.