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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

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From Science News:
Newborn nerve cells may help heal the brain after a traumatic injury.

In a study in mice, blocking the birth of new neurons hindered the mice’s ability to learn and remember a water maze after a brain injury, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas report in the March 30 Journal of Neuroscience. The finding could help settle a debate about what new nerve cells do for the brain and may eventually change the way brain-injured patients are treated.

Although scientists have known for a decade that adult brains can make new neurons in two parts of the brain, the role of the newborn cells has not been clear. Some scientists thought that, in adults, neurogenesis, as researchers call the process of generating new nerve cells, may be a leftover from building a new brain during development and has no affect on the adult brain at all. Others have evidence that the new wiring that hooks up new brain cells sometimes gets tangled and may lead to seizures after a brain injury or in epilepsy. Many researchers have suspected that making new cells is good for the brain, but data to definitely settle the claim has been lacking.

The new study suggests that newborn neurons made in the hippocampus — an important learning and memory center in the brain — are beneficial, at least in aiding recovery after traumatic brain injuries. “It’s clear they are doing something, and that that something aids recovery,” says Jack Parent, a neurologist and neuroscientist at the University of Michigan Medical Center.
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