When we learn new things, or make new memories, new cells are formed in part of our brain called the hippocampus. It’s happening right now in your head. But this constant renewal is something of a mystery to us, hidden as it is by our skull and outer brain. A new technique has managed to record the process in situ, as it happens in a mouse brain (shown in the video, with two marked cells spawning new lineages over months) by removing some of the obstructing layers. This unprecedented view on the process reveals some lines of cells dying off while others thrive, and both symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions, all of which builds scientists’ knowledge of how sequences of cells develop from an initial ‘stem cell’ – a concept crucial to hundreds of new treatments, but poorly defined in the complex brain.
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.