In the last century, cognitive impairment in elderly people was considered as the consequence of neuronal death. However, later analyses indicated that age-related reduction in neuron number was limited to specific regions of the central nervous system, and was irrelevant to brain dysfunction in both humans and non-human animals. Recent studies have indicated that progressive diminution of neural plasticity across an individual's life span may underlie age-related brain dysfunction. To date, various factors have been shown to contribute to neural plasticity. In particular, substantial data supports the importance of production of new cells in the adult brain: the rate of hippocampal neurogenesis wanes radically during aging; similarly, white matter homeostasis via oligodendrogenesis is also affected by aging. This review briefly summarizes quantitative studies on adult hippocampal neurogenesis and oligodendrogenesis. Although the hippocampus is traditionally recognized as the memory center of the brain, it has started to emerge as an integrator of cognition and emotion. One of the current research highlights is that diverse functions of the hippocampus are topographically embedded along its longitudinal and transverse axes. Here we discuss alterations in adult neurogenesis and oligodendrogenesis during aging from a topographic view point. The quantitative anatomic approach to age-related alterations in production of new cells in the hippocampus may give a novel insight into how brain functions suffer from aging.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes