Emily Singer

A View from Emily Singer

Boosting Brain Power

Breaking news from the biggest neuroscience meeting in the world

  • October 17, 2006

One of the biggest neuroscience discoveries of the past ten years is the fact that new neurons are born in the brain throughout our lives. In fact, 1,000 new cells are produced every day in the hippocampus, a brain structure involved in learning and memory. Now scientists are trying to figure out how we can maximize the benefits that these cells bring, potentially boosting brain power and slowing cognitive decline.

Most of the new cells born in the adult brain die within weeks. But according to new research, learning can help those cells survive. “Good learners retain more new cells than bad learners do,” says Tracey Shors, a neuroscientist at Rutgers University who presented her work at the Society for Neurosciences conference in Atlanta this week. “Something about the learning process keeps these things from dying.” The findings, based on research in rats, could help explain why people who stay mentally active later in life seem to experience a delay in cognitive decline.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

You've read of free articles this month.