Study Finds Newly Formed “Immature” Neurons Appear in Brain Throughout Lifespan

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Scientists and clinicians from the Neuroscience Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) collaborated with a team led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania on a study showing that, in a key memory region of the brain called the hippocampus, immature, plastic neurons are present in significant numbers throughout the human lifespan.

The study was published in July in the journal Nature and helps to confirm the existence of “adult neurogenesis” or the production of new, immature neurons in the mature human brain. The findings may also provide important insight into adult neurogenesis, particularly how it may be involved in disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The study utilized a combination of new techniques, including machine learning to sift through large sets of data to confirm key differences between mature and immature neurons, as well as single-nucleus RNA sequencing, which helps record essentially all gene activity happening within a cell. Using these new methods, the researchers found immature neurons in brain samples ranging from infancy to age 92.

Read the full press release from Penn Medicine.