Brain adds cells in puberty to navigate adult world
The brain adds new cells during puberty to help navigate the complex social world of adulthood, two Michigan State University neuroscientists report in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Scientists used to think the brain cells you're born with are all you get. After studies revealed the birth of new brain cells in adults, conventional wisdom held that such growth was limited to two brain regions associated with memory and smell.
But in the past few years, researchers in MSU's neuroscience program have shown that mammalian brains also add cells during puberty in the amygdala and interconnected regions where it was thought no new growth occurred. The amygdala plays an important role in helping the brain make sense of social cues. For hamsters, it picks up signals transmitted by smell through pheromones; in humans, the amygdala evaluates facial expressions and body language.
"These regions are important for social behaviors, particularly mating behavior," said lead author Maggie Mohr, a doctoral student in neuroscience. "So, we thought maybe cells that are added to those parts of the brain during puberty could be important for adult reproductive function."
To test that idea, Mohr and Cheryl Sisk, MSU professor of psychology, injected male hamsters with a chemical marker to show cell birth during puberty. When the hamsters matured into adults, the researchers allowed them to interact and mate with females.
Examining the brains immediately after that rendezvous, the researchers found new cells born during puberty had been added to the amygdala and associated regions. Some of the new cells contained a protein that indicates cell activation, which told Mohr and Sisk those cells had become part of the neural networks involved in social and sexual behavior.
"Before this study it was unclear if cells born during puberty even survived into adulthood," Mohr said. "We've shown that they can mature to become part of the brain circuitry that underlies adult behavior."
Their results also showed that more of the new brain cells survived and became functional in males raised in an enriched environment – a larger cage with a running wheel, nesting materials and other features – than in those with a plain cage.
While people act in more complicated ways than rodents, the researchers said they hope their work ultimately sheds light on human behavior.
"We don't know if cells are added to the human amygdala during puberty," Sisk said, "but we know the amygdala plays a similar role in people as in hamsters. We hope to learn whether similar mechanisms are at play as people's brains undergo the metamorphosis that occurs during puberty."
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Provided by Michigan State University
- Brain changes in adolescent males shown in new research Jan 19, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers identify site in brain where leptin may trigger puberty Dec 22, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Adolescent sex linked to adult body, mood troubles, in animal study Nov 15, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Brain biology may dictate social networks Jan 04, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Sociability may depend upon brain cells generated in adolescence Oct 04, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
New research presented today shows that formation of new neurons in the hippocampus - a brain region known for its importance in learning and remembering - could cause forgetting of old memories by causing a reorganization ...
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | 4 / 5 (4) | 0
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 2
One of the major frontiers of modern science is a comprehensive understanding of the human brain and its functions to guide the development of new technologies in information and communication. In a major announcement for ...
Neuroscience 18 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (9) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—The human brain is able to identify individuals' voices by comparing them against an internal 'average voice' prototype, according to neuroscientists.
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 3 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
12 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
15 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—The way Alzheimer's disease is portrayed by advocacy groups and the media is having undue influence on the euthanasia debate, according to a Deakin University nursing ethics professor.
19 hours ago | not rated yet | 2
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
19 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |