Activity-dependent regulation of
neuronal plasticity and self repair

Kempermann G, van Praag H, Gage FH.
Salk Institute for Biological Studies,
Laboratory of Genetics,
10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA
92037, USA.
Prog Brain Res 2000;127:35-48


Plasticity is an essential characteristic of the brain: it is part of how the brain functions and is continuous while the brain interacts with the outer world. The state of activation and the level of activity of the entire organism affect the brain's plastic response. Brain plasticity has many substrates, ranging from synapses to neurites and entire cells. The production of new neurons is part of plasticity even in the adult and old brain, but under normal conditions neurogenesis only occurs in two privileged regions of the adult brain: hippocampus and olfactory system. At least in the hippocampus, physical activity stimulates neurogenesis by acting on the proliferation of neuronal stem cells. More specific functions such as learning may be able to recruit new neurons from the pool of cells with neurogenic potential. In a broader context neuronal stem cells can likely be found throughout the brain. Therefore, novel approaches to neuroregeneration will, when most effective, make use of the activity-related effects on neuronal stem cells in the adult brain to activate these stem cells in a targeted manner to enhance brain function.

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