Scientists have long believed that the adult brain is hardwired and inflexible. But the brain may be subject to change: Princeton researcher Elizabeth Gould, Ph.D., and team have found that the cerebral cortex the area of complex thought--grows new brain cells through adulthood, the latest of several new studies to discover new neurons developing in the brain. We asked three experts what this paradigm-shifting news holds for us.
"We know we can affect the body through diet and exercise. We are now realizing we can also have control over the structure of our brain and its function."
--Fred Gage, Ph.d.,
neurobiologist, Salk Institute
"The discovery opens up therapeutic possibilities. Instead of transplanting cells, we can encourage the genesis of the patient's own cells to replace those destroyed by damage or illness."
--Ira Black, M.D., chairman of neuroscience
at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
"Our challenge for the next decade is to see what role these new cells have in enriching learning abilities in humans. We are working on a more solid foundation for studying learning and memory."