Neuro-what?!?

Dawn Williams
4 min readMay 16, 2022

That is what I thought when I saw the word come across my screen earlier this semester in class. As it turns out, neurogenesis is one of the ways that we can help ourselves out!

What is Neurogenesis?

As the University of Queensland states, “Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain. Neurogenesis is crucial when an embryo is developing, but also continues in certain brain regions after birth and throughout our lifespan.” (1) Not only does neurogenesis happen during the embryonic phases of life but they continue to grow and develop in different parts of the brain throughout our adult life also.

Neurogenesis happens within two main parts of the brain. They are the subventricular zone and the subangular zones of the brain. The subangular zone also houses the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that helps with storage of memories and learning of new information. What this really means is that there is a place deep in the brain where neurons or new nerve cells are produced that allow for new information to be taken in and learned throughout life. During early development, this happens very rapidly and then it slows as a person grows and becomes older. When a person ages, the rate at which new neurons are developed slows, but never stops.

So what is the key?

How can we use neurogenesis to help us throughout our lives? There are certain things that we can do to encourage neurogenesis within the brain. Some of those are exercise, changes in diet, and reduction in stress.

Exercise sends more blood through the brain and allows for the hippocampus to grow. The tendency is for it to shrink as we age, but exercise can keep this from progressing by providing more blood flow in the hippocampus and keeping it healthier.

When looking at our diets, keeping away from sugars will help! An article from the Daily Health Post says, “refined sugars affect proteins and neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for learning and memory.” (2) There are also certain food that we should increase our intake of. Things such as Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can increase neurogenesis.

Finally stress reduction can be helpful with neurogenesis. Living a life that is high in stress can be detrimental to your body, mood, and to the rate at which neurogenesis happens in your brain. By reducing the amount of stress in your life you allow more frequent neurogenesis, and therefore better moods. Some studies suggest that neurogenesis leads to decreases in depression and would then increase quality of life based on such information.

By utilizing these tools, you are giving your brain the food and nutrients that it needs to stay happy and healthy, and then the brains transfers all of that throughout your body.

What does Neurogenesis do for us?

Neurogenesis has not only shown to have benefits for mood and depression, but also dealings with cognition, and diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.

By keeping the neurons firing and making new memories, and using these parts of the brain, you are keeping you mind healthier for longer. There are games that have been designed to help with training of our brains that help with neurogenesis such as those on Brain HQ and Lumosity. They have simple games to be played for a certain amount of time each day, and during that time you are growing new pathways.

Conclusion

By making a few smart choices with diet, exercise, stress reduction, and brain games a person can keep their brain healthy and young for a very long time. Creating new pathways and having continuous neurogenesis will allow for less depression, and a happier overall life.

References

  1. What is neurogenesis? Queensland Brain Institute. (2021, April 23). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain-physiology/what-neurogenesis
  2. You can grow new brain cells, regardless of age. here’s how! DailyHealthPost. (2022, April 5). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://dailyhealthpost.com/neurogenesis-adults/

--

--