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Dev Neurobiol. 2012 Jul;72(7):1044-58. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22027.

Activation of different neural precursor populations in the adult hippocampus: does this lead to new neurons with discrete functions?

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Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Resident populations of stem and precursor cells drive the production of new neurons in the adult hippocampus. Recent discoveries have highlighted that a large proportion of these precursor cells are in fact quiescent and can be activated by distinct neuronal activity under both normal physiological and pathological conditions. As growing evidence indicates that newborn neurons play a critical role in cognitive functions such as learning and memory and in mood regulation, it is paramount that we obtain a better understanding of how the reservoirs of stem and precursor cells are maintained and activated. In this review, we critically examine the roles of key molecular mechanisms that have been shown to regulate hippocampal precursor cells, especially their activation. We believe that understanding the mechanistic details of the activity-driven regulation of precursor cells will equip us with the ability to develop tailored strategies to trigger the generation of new neurons, thereby improving the functional outcomes in various neurological and psychiatric conditions.

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