Neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult hippocampus generate new neurons via a process referred to as neurogenesis, supporting cognitive functions. Since altered neurogenesis has been reportedly associated with several diseases such as epilepsy, the molecular basis of NSC activity is an important focus in the study of neurogenesis. Furthermore, facilitation of neurogenesis in the injured brain would be an ideal approach to replenish lost neurons for damage recovery. However, natural neurogenesis by endogenous NSCs in the adult brain is insufficient for complete recovery after severe injury. Recent advances in understanding forced neurogenesis from brain-resident non-neuronal cells by direct reprogramming and clearing hurdles to achieve it have improved the ability to replace damaged neurons in the brain. In this review, we describe molecular mechanisms underlying natural and forced neurogenesis, and discuss future directions for treatments of diseases in the central nervous system.
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