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AFP
March 9, 2018

No new ‘learning’ brain cells after age 13

World

AFP
March 9, 2018

PARIS: Around the age of 13, the human brain region that hosts memory and learning appears to stop producing nerve cells, said a study on Wednesday described as "sobering".

The finding challenges a widely-held view that the brain’s hippocampus region continues to generate neurons, which transmit information through chemical and electrical signals, well into adulthood in humans, as in other mammals.

Neurons are the cells that allow animals to react to their environment by transferring data about external stimuli such as a smell or sound to the central nervous system, and from there to muscles and glands to respond appropriately.

Some research had suggested that hundreds of neurons are created in the human hippocampus every day, and it was thought that finding ways to boost such "neurogenesis" may help tackle age-related brain degeneration.

Looking at brain samples from 59 adults and children, however, "we found no evidence of young neurons or the dividing progenitors of new neurons" in the hippocampi of people older than 18, study co-author Arturo Alvarez-Buylla of the University of California in San Francisco told AFP.

They did find some in children between birth and one year, "and a few at seven and 13 years of age," he said. Published in the scientific journal Nature, the study "shows that the human hippocampus is largely generated during foetal brain development," the team said.

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