Sandrine started by recalling an earlier discussion
Sandrine Thuret started by recalling how her oncologist colleague, Robert, said that adults cannot grow new neurons. Sandrine corrected him by saying that they can.
She talked about hippocampus
Sandrine talked about how hippocampus is important for the process of neurogenesis, learning, memory, mood and emotions.
She said new neurons are made in hippocampus
Sandrine said that hippocampus is where new neurons are generated. She showed a newborn neuron in an adult mouse brain.
She said we create 700 new neurons daily
Sandrine said Jonas Frisén from the Karolinska Institutet estimated humans produce 700 new neurons daily in the hippocampus. By the time we turn 50, we will have exchanged all the original neurons for new ones.
She explained why new neurons are important
Sandrine said new neurons are important for learning and memory. Also, blocking the ability of the adult brain to produce new neurons in the hippocampus blocks certain memory abilities.
She said new neurons affect memory’s quality
Sandrine said neurons are important for memory capacity and for the quality of the memory. They are helpful for adding time to our memory and help to differentiate between very similar memories.
She said lower neurogenesis is linked to depression
Sandrine said that in an animal model of depression, she has seen that we have a lower level of neurogenesis. (See How does it feel like to be depressed?)
She said antidepressants can restart neurogenesis
Sandrine said that antidepressants increase the production of these newborn neurons, and decrease the symptoms of depression.
She said cancer drugs can stop neurogenesis
Sandrine talked about how Robert’s patients, her oncologist colleague, stopped neurogenesis because of cancer drugs. She said it will take time to generate new neurons that reach normal functions.
She said neurogenesis is the main target
Sandrine talked about how neurogenesis is a target of choice for improving memory formation, mood, or even prevent the decline associated with aging or stress.
She said we can control neurogenesis
Sandrine said we can control neurogenesis. Learning, sex and running increase neurogenesis. Sleep deprivation, stress and getting older decrease it.
She showed the effects of running on neurogenesis
Sandrine showed how Rusty Gage from the Salk Institute had a mouse that had a running wheel in its cage. There was a massive increase of the new neurons-to-be.
She said food affects neurogenesis
Sandrine talked about how calorie restriction of 20-30%, intermittent fasting, Omega-3, and flavonoids increase neurogenesis. High saturated fat and alcohol decrease it. (See What Alcohol does to your Brain?)
She said food texture affects neurogenesis
Sandrine said Japanese have actually shown that soft diet impairs neurogenesis, as opposed to a diet that requires chewing or crunchy food.
She concluded by saying we need to learn more
Sandrine concluded by saying that neuroscientists need to understand better the function of these new neurons, and how to control their survival and production.
Sandrine and Margaret Heffernan talked
In the end, Margaret Heffernan thanked Sandrine. She also said that she changed her life as Margaret now eats a lot of blueberries.
Video summary: You can grow new brain cells. Here’s how by Sandrine Thuret
You can grow new brain cells by Sandrine Thuret | TED@BCG London