Adult Neurogenesis: Beyond Learning and Memory

  • Annual Review of Psychology, January 2015, Annual Reviews
  • DOI: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015006

Adult neurogenesis: the stress response and emotion

What is it about?

The birth of new neurons (adult neurogenesis) occurs throughout adulthood. The function of these new neurons remains unclear. One proposed idea is that these new neurons participate in aspects of learning and memory. Another line of inquiry suggests that these new neurons are involved in the stress response and emotion, such as anxiety and depression. This article reviews these two lines of inquiry, as discussed in an historical framework of the hippocampus, and concludes that the hippocampus and new neurons may be better understood in terms of their role in prediction about goal-related outcomes that rely on memory and can be influenced by emotion.

Why is it important?

This review article summarizes a large number of findings from the burgeoning field of adult neurogenesis and discusses these findings in reference to historical and current ideas about the hippocampus (where these new neurons are born). Above all, this review postulates a new idea about how these new neurons may be better understood in helping to choose/bias between conflicting or ambiguous outcomes based on a set a predictions.


Lucas R Glover (Author)
University of Oxford

This review article is timely because the field of adult neurogenesis is rather conflicted. It suggests that the role of these new neurons may be to bias predictions that aid in optimal-choice behavior and behavioral adaptation, especially under stressful conditions when conflicting information is received. This new perspective on their role is important in understanding not only biasing of choice behaviors to promote well-being but also how stressful situations can be generalized to new situations, as is the case in generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

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The following have contributed to this page: Lucas R Glover