Do Brain Cells Regenerate?

For a long time, scientists thought that it was impossible for brain cells to regenerate because they assumed that any new cells would disrupt the order of the brain. Research has shown that this is not true, and that brain cells can and do regenerate, especially in the areas related to learning, decision-making, visual recognition, and the way people perceive objects in space. Research is ongoing about neurogenesis (i.e., the birth of neurons), since it could be used to help treat conditions connected to memory loss or motor dysfunction.

More about brain cells:

  • One of the main areas of research in regenerating brain cells has to do with one particular type of cell, glial cells. These start out as stem cells in the brain, but lose the ability to become different types of cells as a person ages. Researchers have discovered that they can be reprogrammed to change into nerve cells even in adults, which means that they could be used to replace damaged brain cells in people with injuries or diseases.

  • Deep brain stimulation, a process that involves sending electrical pulses through the brain much like a pacemaker does for a heart, may be able to encourage the regeneration of brain cells as well. Though it's not entirely clear how it works, several studies have shown that this method reduces Alzheimer's and Parkinson's symptoms.

  • Brain cells can also be grown from embryonic stem cells. Though research is mostly concentrated on monkeys so far, in several experiments scientists have been able to transplant stem-cell sourced brain cells grown from monkeys back into the monkeys' brains. If this worked for humans, it could greatly reduce the chances of a person's body rejecting the cells, since they come from the same body.

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Discussion Comments


Any living tissue, irrespective, of its form, once comprised of cells, will of necessity regenerate with new cell formation. Because of the minute size of the cells, they hold no vast reservoirs of energy, so they must reproduce and regenerate, with the common denominator -- energy -- which does not change.

Energy cannot be destroyed, but changes to one form of energy to another form, like light energy, can change to heat energy, like lasers.


Will the study include the chemical information that constitutes memory details in regeneration or is the cell formatted (so to speak) for new memories?


"Brain cells grown from monkeys back into the monkeys' brains" are not human. Then they will be tried on humans and if this works, keep reading...


@Ossolfe: To answer your post would take more space than this blog allots. Answering "if" questions is what future research is about.


If the brain cells of a monkey after this research are transferred to a human brain, what will be the behavioral status of the human?

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