About this Research Topic
Since the discovery of adult neurogenesis in the mammalian brain, why most mammalian species remain the capability of generating new neurons in certain brain regions throughout adulthood has become a fascinating question. Is adult neurogenesis just one of the vestiges of ancient mammalian ancestors, is it a continuation of developmental neurogenesis, or is it essential for certain brain functions and thus plays irreplaceable functional roles for survival?
Although adult neurogenesis has been verified in several mammalian species, our understanding of its functionality still remains superficial. During the past decades, emerging findings on neurogenic areas of the adult brain, such as the hippocampus and subventricular zone/olfactory bulb, have updated our knowledge how the brain neural circuits works, with continuously generated newborn neurons.
Newborn neurons exhibit distinct cellular and physiological properties, such as higher excitability and enhanced plasticity, and they are not only recruited into the neural circuits for information coding, but are also important for regulating the activity of local circuits. Mounting evidence has shown that the continuous addition of new neurons contributes to circuitry functions in neurogenic areas. For example, hippocampal neurogenesis is important for learning and memory, pattern separation, counter-anxiety, adaptation to the changing environment, as well as helping to clear away outdated information; whereas olfactory bulb neurogenesis in rodents provides the substrates for coding novel odor information.
Though it was recently brought into debate whether adult neurogenesis exists in human and primates, further evidence is needed before a final conclusion could be drawn. New findings continuously emerge highlighting the existence and functional roles of neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain. Given the functional importance of neurogenesis in the adult brain, further investigation on the functionality of adult neurogenesis will lead us to a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying how brain circuits work.
With this Research Topic, we aim at providing the latest evidence and discussing the functions of adult neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain. This collection may contain original research articles with new findings as well as reviews providing an overview of current knowledge about the functions of neurogenesis under different circumstances.
This Research Topic is focused on but not limited to the following aspects:
- The functional integration of newborn neurons into the existing neural circuits;
- The contribution of newborn neurons to the circuit activity;
- Behavioral functions of adult neurogenesis in the mammalian brain.
Keywords: adult neurogenesis, neural stem cells, newborn neurons, functional integration, physiological functions
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