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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 Oct;13(10):727-36. doi: 10.1038/nrn3319. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

New neurons for 'survival of the fittest'.

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  • Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Fetscherstra├če 105, 01307 Dresden, Germany. gerd.kempermann@crt-dresden.de


Adult neurogenesis is often considered an archaic trait that has undergone a 'phylogenetic reduction' from amphibian ancestors to humans. However, adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus might actually be a late-evolved trait. In non-mammals, adult hippocampal neurogenesis is not restricted to the equivalents of the dentate gyrus, which also show different connectivity and functionality compared to their mammalian counterpart. Moving actively in a changing world and dealing with novelty and complexity regulate adult neurogenesis. New neurons might thus provide the cognitive adaptability to conquer ecological niches rich with challenging stimuli.

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