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Behav Brain Res. 2012 Feb 14;227(2):371-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.05.007. Epub 2011 May 19.

Is there a role for young hippocampal neurons in adaptation to stress?

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Department of Psychiatry, Division of Integrative Neuroscience, Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Dr. Box 87, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The hippocampus has been implicated in many cognitive and emotional behaviors and in the physiology of the stress response. Within the hippocampus, the dentate gyrus has been implicated in the detection of novelty. The dentate is also a major target for stress hormones and modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response to stress. Whether these functions of the dentate integrate or segregate remains unknown, as most investigations of its role in stress and learning are separate. Since the exciting discovery of adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus, adult-born neurons have been implicated in both novelty detection and the stress response. In this perspective we will discuss the literature that implicates the hippocampus, and potentially, adult-born neurons in these two functions. We will attempt to reconcile the seemingly contradictory behavioral results for the function of adult-born neurons. Finally, we will speculate that a key function of adult-born neurons within hippocampal function may be to modulate the stress response and perhaps assign stress salience to the sensory context.

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