SickKids Logo When our skin bleeds due to some reason, it is presumed that new cells would grow over time. But can brain cells undergo regeneration? Experts from The Hospital for Sick Children and the University Health Network have apparently demonstrated positive outcomes in regenerating neurons in the portion of the brain that plays a role in memory and learning.

This may eventually pave the path for treating illnesses like Alzheimer’s and other neurocognitive issues. The scientists wished to essentially examine the mechanism of deep brain stimulation that usually involves activating the electrodes in a specific region of the brain.

Dr. Paul Frankland, Principal Investigator of the new research and Senior Scientist in the Neurosciences and Mental Health Program at SickKids, explained, “We asked whether increasing the production of new neurons would have any impact on memory and learning. What we found was that we were able to facilitate memory formation.”

As part of the research, electrodes were transfixed into the entorhinal cortex of the brain that is responsible for memory formation. They then stimulated the electrodes for about an hour and found that the creation of new neurons seemingly doubled. This elevation was observed almost 3 to 5 days after the activation episode and stayed for a week. The new neurons created in this process supposedly got connected to the native circuitry similar to natural neurons.

After a span of 6 weeks of growing neuron generation, the animal prototypes underwent training for a spatial job. It was to locate a hidden scaffold in a maze of water. They seemed to show signs of improved memory as they scrolled the maze. To affirm that this influence was due to the new neurons and not anything else, the investigators utilized temozolomide (TMZ) to impede the formation of new cells. Presumably, this prohibited memory development by which the scientists inferred that the new neurons primarily contributed to it.

According to Frankland, this is an important revelation in neuroscience which shows that new neurons are created by stimulation and linked to the brain circuits already existing which work normally like older cells. This is like expanding the memory of the computer by addition of RAM, he adds. If this research is successful, it may work wonders in diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The analysis is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.