As our busy brain whirrs away, processing information and steering our body through the world, it is constantly making new cells. This process of renovation relies on pools of stem cells – cells primed and waiting to develop into any number of useful functions – and has implications for neurological diseases from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. A new study has found that signals sent between very separate areas of the brain spur this growth. In response to stimuli such as hunger and feeding, a mouse’s hypothalamus activated specific groups of stem cells to form new neurons, on-demand. Following long-distance signals sent across the brain, new neurons (white) were produced for the olfactory bulb – a part of the brain that processes smells – proving that new brain cell development is affected by environmental inputs and mediated across different brain areas. Food for thought for those researching the development and treatment of neurological diseases.
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.