New neurons archive old memories

July 13, 2018, Society for Neuroscience
Ability to obtain new memories in adulthood may depend on neurogenesis -- the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus -- to clear out old memories that have been safely stored in the cortex, according to research in male rats published in JNeurosci. Credit: Alam et al., JNeurosci (2018)

The ability to obtain new memories in adulthood may depend on neurogenesis—the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus—to clear out old memories that have been safely stored in the cortex, according to research in male rats published in JNeurosci.

Previous research suggests that the hippocampus has a finite capacity to acquire and store new memories. It is unknown how the brain compensates for this limitation to facilitate learning throughout life.

Kaoru Inokuchi and colleagues show that reducing in rats impairs recovery of learning capacity while promoting neurogenesis through on a running wheel increased hippocampal capacity. This finding implies that neurogenesis, which can be reduced by stress and aging, underlies the brain's capacity for .

The study may also explain why exercise is especially important for patients with memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease as well as for healthy people to help maintain memory as they age.

Explore further: Sustained aerobic exercise increases adult neurogenesis in the brain

More information: Md Jahangir Alam et al, Adult Neurogenesis Conserves Hippocampal Memory Capacity, The Journal of Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2976-17.2018

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