This is the First Ever Image of New Neurons Forming in a Live Brain

By Jamie Condliffe on at

You aren’t born with all your brain cells: in some parts of your brain, new ones grow throughout your life. This image, taken from experiments with mice, is the first time we’ve ever seen new neurons growing in live brain.

It was once thought that our brain was fully formed at birth, but more recently it’s been shown that new neurons do grow over time. Most of them appear in the hippocampus — the part of the brain that helps you learn and remember things.

But we’d never seen them growing in a live brain. Now, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York have implanted a tiny microscope in the brains of live mice to catch them. You can see them glowing red in the image.

In a series of experiments where the team was able to deactivate the new brain cells using focused light, the team found that they appear to help with certain types of memory processing which help the animals differentiate between different new memories. The team reckons that understanding more about them could have implication for the treatment of depression and schizophrenia. [Neuron via New Scientist]