New brain cell growth important for adults.
May 25, 2007 2:42pm CST
Researchers have found that new adult neurons showed a pattern changing plasticity very similiar to that seen in brain cells in newborn animals. That is, the new adult brain cells showed a "critical period" in which they were highly plastic before they settled into the less plastic properties of mature brain cells. In newborn animals, such a critical period enables an important, early burst of wiring of new brain circuitry with experience. What's more, the researchers molecular analysis showed that the plasticity of new adult neurons depended on the function of one of the same types of receptors that is associated with learning-related processes in newborn animals. Such receptors are the receiving stations for checmical signals called neurotransmitters, launched from neighboring neurons to trigger a nerve impulse in the receiving neurons. Subtle alterations in receptor populations are the means by which the brain wires the preferred pathways in the process of learning an memory. This may mean that even as adults we have very large abilities to learn and change the way our minds perceive the world due to new expreiences.
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