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The debate over how long our brains keep making new nerve cells heats up

A new study finds no signs of newborn neurons in adults’ memory-making region

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5:14pm, March 8, 2018
nerve cells

DWINDLING DOWN Young nerve cells (green) were spotted in the memory-related hippocampus of a newborn (left), but rarely in a sample from a 13-year-old (center). And none were seen in adults, including this sample from a 35-year-old (right).

Adult mice and other rodents sprout new nerve cells in memory-related parts of their brains. People, not so much. That’s the surprising conclusion of a series of experiments on human brains of various ages first described at a meeting in November (SN: 12/9/17, p. 10). A more complete description of the finding, published online March 7 in Nature, gives heft to the controversial result, as well as ammo to researchers looking for reasons to be skeptical of the findings.

In contrast to earlier prominent studies, Shawn Sorrells of the University of California, San Francisco and his colleagues failed to find newborn nerve cells in the memory-related hippocampi of adult brains. The team looked for these cells in nonliving brain samples in two ways: molecular markers that tag

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