Active brain: neuron production continues into old age

When we talk about matters related to health of the mind, the name of diseases like Alzheimer’s soon comes up.

Diseases of this type, called neurodegeneratives, are considered pathological processes capable of affecting brain cells and causing some type of mental retardation.

This causes the loss of some healthy neurons in the early stages of these diseases.

And it is exactly about the number of neurons that we want to talk about.

According to a new study, published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine , our brain continues to gain neurons until at least 97 years of age .

The current discovery is contrary to what many scientists thought, that we are born with all the brain cells that we would need during life.

How does the brain produce neurons?

The process of forming new neurons in the brain is called neurogenesis. It guarantees the connections (or synapses) between these nerve cells.

It is a slow process, and basically consists of replacing the damaged or dead cell with another neuron that will be produced.

However, most of the time, the new nerve cell (neuron) appears first in another brain region, after which it is moved to where the cell it is going to replace is located.

Healthy people versus Alzheimer’s patients

In the study, scientists followed how neurogenesis happens in different situations, such as in healthy people and people with Alzheimer’s.

In the brains of people considered to be healthy, the process of forming new nerve cells gradually decreased with advancing age.

In people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that has changed.

Only in the early stages of the disease, the number of new neurons has reduced by up to 30%.

But according to the researchers, this decrease can be seen probably before symptoms appear and before the protein Alzheimer characteristics (tau) accumulate in the brain.

This can be considered an important finding for other studies on combating Alzheimer’s, in addition to contributing to the disease being diagnosed early.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Their symptoms will manifest over time, especially in the early stages, and may go unnoticed by the family and the patient himself.

Therefore, new discoveries about the signs of Alzheimer’s are important.