We were always taught that the brain as it advanced in age did not develop any new cells after childhood, that being small was easier to learn new things and that when we reached adulthood it was much more difficult to acquire new skills or learn a foreign language, for example. And that not only we heard from our parents or on television, doctors, blogs like Hadley Trump Health and specialists said in the matter, but now more recent studies suggested that if hyperstimulation of specific areas of the brain, new cells could be formed and new studies say that they form thousands of new brain cells or neurons all the time, even when people are very old.
These new studies conclude that problems with mental abilities and memory associated with age are not due to the loss of neurons, but to failures in the neurons themselves to communicate appropriately with each other.
Actually, older people have a similar capacity to generate thousands of new hippocampal neurons from the progenitor cells, as do younger people. However, older people had less blood vessel formation and perhaps less ability of new neurons to establish connections.
This breakthrough could help scientists better understand the causes of dementia and how to prevent it from happening, as the numbers of people with these neurodegenerative disorders are constantly increasing. For their experiment, the experts observed the hippocampus in 28 healthy individuals between 14 and 79 years old who had died suddenly. None of them had cognitive impairment or depression, which can affect the development of neurons.
They discovered that even the most mature brains were forming neurons until death. It is the first time that scientists observe newly created neurons and the state of blood vessels throughout the human hippocampus shortly after death.
Older people formed fewer new blood vessels within the brain structures and had a smaller group of progenitor cells, descendants of stem cells that become neurons. This brain deterioration in old age could be due to this smaller set of neural stem cells, decreased blood vessels and reduced cell-to-cell connectivity in the hippocampus.