Study Suggests that Senior Citizens Remain as Emotionally and Cognitively Intact as Younger Ones

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For the very first time, researchers demonstrate that healthy older women and men can produce just as many new cells of brain as younger people. For long there has been a controversy over whether adult men and women grow new neurons, and some research has earlier made a suggestion that the adult brain is hard-wired and it does not grow new neurons. This research has been published on the journal Cell Stem Cell that contradicts earlier concept. Maura Boldrini, lead author and associate professor of neurobiology at Columbia University, states that the findings of the study might suggest that many of the senior citizens remain more emotionally and cognitively intact than otherwise believed commonly.

Ability of New Neurons to Make Connections amongst Older Individuals Decreases

Professor Boldrini remarked that that the older people possess similar capability to produce thousands of hippocampal new neurons from progenitor cells just as brains of younger people do. It has been also been found that equal volumes of the hippocampus which is a brain structure used for cognition and emotion exists in human beings across ages. However, older individuals come with less vascularization and could have less ability of new neurons to make connections.

The researchers have autopsied hippocampi from 28 individuals aged 14-79 who had been previously healthy and had died all of a sudden. This is the very first time that scientists have looked at newly formed neurons and the condition of the blood vessels within the entire human hippocampus just after their death.

The ability to generate new hippocampal cells declines with age amongst primates and rodents. Reduced production of neurons and a general shrinking of the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus are thought to assist in the formation of new episodic memories and were believed to occur in older humans as well.

In addition to that, the researchers from New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University have discovered that even the oldest of the brains that they studied generated new brain cells.

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