Your brain keeps making new nerve cells, even as you get older. That’s a big deal. For decades, researchers believed that aging brains stop making new cells. But recent research has offered strong evidence to the contrary, and a new paper published today (April 5) in the journal Cell Stem Cell tries to put the notion to bed entirely. Aging brains, the researchers showed, produce just as many new cells as younger brains do.
“When I went to medical school, they used to teach us that the brain stops making new cells,” said lead study author Dr. Maura Boldrini, a neurobiologist at Columbia University. But, Boldrini told Live Science, researchers began to suspect that was wrong: Studies in mice showed that even the older mice produced new nerve cells. And early studies in humans started to turn up similar results.
This study, though, is the first to thoroughly track the brain’s cell production over the course of a typical human lifetime.