Transcript of You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How by Sandrine Thuret at TED Talks…
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Can we, as adults, grow new nerve cells? There’s still some confusion about that question, as this is a fairly new field of research. For example, I was talking to one of my colleagues, Robert, who is an oncologist, and he was telling me, “Sandrine, this is puzzling. Some of my patients that have been told they are cured of their cancer still develop symptoms of depression.”
And I responded to him, “Well, from my point of view that makes sense. The drug you give to your patients that stops the cancer cells multiplying also stops the newborn neurons being generated in their brain.”
And then Robert looked at me like I was crazy and said, “But Sandrine, these are adult patients — adults do not grow new nerve cells.” And much to his surprise, I said, “Well actually, we do.” And this is a phenomenon that we call neurogenesis.
Now Robert is not a neuroscientist, and when he went to medical school he was not taught what we know now — that the adult brain can generate new nerve cells. So Robert, being the good doctor that he is, wanted to come to my lab to understand a little bit better the topic. And I took him for a tour of one of the most exciting parts of the brain when it comes to neurogenesis — and this is the hippocampus. So this is this gray structure in the center of the brain. And what we’ve known already for very long is that this is important for learning, memory, mood and emotion.