Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Reinvention of the Self
March 4, 2006 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Neurogenesis Neurogenesis, the birth of new brain cells, was something we were all taught was impossible after a certain point. Professor Elizabeth Gould, doctor of psychology at Princeton, has claimed that it happens all the time. (more) Now, she and her team at Princeton are saying not only is our brain always changing, stress and environment directly affect brain development.
posted by blacklite (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
aw, hell. There's only supposed to be one 'neurogenesis' at the beginning. but, anyway, it is a good article.
posted by blacklite at 10:45 AM on March 4, 2006


and i mentioned princeton twice. grah.

I should never post before coffee.
posted by blacklite at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2006


Thank you for posting a link to that article, Blacklite. I read it in the magazine and found it utterly fascinating and resonant. By the way, I think the author, Jonah Lehrer, is one of the very best up-and-coming science writers out there. He's still in his mid-20s.
posted by digaman at 10:50 AM on March 4, 2006


good to know. I've been feeling kind of down about the fact that I'm supposedly at the height of my mental powers right now, and I'm just going to get stupider, and ugly, and weaker from here on out.

:(
posted by delmoi at 11:12 AM on March 4, 2006


I think the best thing to take from this is that the best thing to do is just chill.
posted by blacklite at 11:30 AM on March 4, 2006


stress and environment directly affect brain development.

*head explodes*
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:45 AM on March 4, 2006


Hhhmmm...not to preach a sermon or anything, but it comes to mind all the things Jesus said about the renewing of the mind, to be anxious for nothing, to fear not, not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of it's self and many others I could quote.

He said these things over 2000 years ago. Glad to see science is finally catching up.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 12:10 PM on March 4, 2006


I am in the process of e-mailing this article to everyone I know.
posted by The White Hat at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2006


"For the last several years, she and her post-doc, Mirescu, have been depriving newborn rats of their mother for either 15 minutes or three hours a day. For an infant rat, there is nothing more stressful. Earlier studies had shown that even after these rats become adults, the effects of their developmental deprivation linger: They never learn how to deal with stress. “Normal rats can turn off their glucocorticoid system relatively quickly,” Mirescu says. “They can recover from the stress response. But these deprived rats can’t do that. It’s as if they are missing the ‘off’ switch.”

But Dr. Gould left her own 4-day-old child to return to the lab. Interesting.
posted by Cranberry at 1:05 PM on March 4, 2006


Dr. Gould left to work on SCIENCE.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on March 4, 2006


The implications are mind blowing ("Flowers for Algernon").

Anyone who takes SSI's or knows someone who does should read this article.

I agree digaman the author is excellent.
posted by stbalbach at 1:34 PM on March 4, 2006


But Dr. Gould left her own 4-day-old child to return to the lab. Interesting.

I'm guessing she didn't leave them entirely alone. In a laboratory.

Leaving your kids with a caregiver (or -- imagine! -- your partner) is simply not the same as depriving rats of their mothers in a lab.
posted by mothershock at 1:45 PM on March 4, 2006


Related thread from way back, (main link broken but you'll get the idea) mainly notable for skallas ripping me a new one.
posted by grahamwell at 2:28 PM on March 4, 2006


That was one seriously excellent example of science writing for the "lay person".

So basically, putting a person in solitary confinement is equivalent to chopping out bits of their brain or administering depressants?
posted by smeger at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2006


The genius of the scientific method, however, is that it accepts no permanent solution. Skepticism is its solvent, for every theory is imperfect. Scientific facts are meaningful precisely because they are ephemeral, because a new observation, a more honest observation, can always alter them.

That should be tattooed to the forehead of people who say that evolution is "just a theory"
posted by smeger at 4:23 PM on March 4, 2006


This is very intereresting. There's a theory (and some documentation for it) that multiple sclerosis is aggravated by stress, and that certain kinds of extreme stress (loss of a child, for instance) increase the likelihood of developing multiple sclerosis. That extreme stress also halts neurogenesis is intriguing in the possible implications about MS....
posted by dilettante at 5:56 PM on March 4, 2006


but it [brings] to mind all the things Jesus said about the renewing of the mind, to be anxious for nothing...

How true! I also look forward to the day when science uncovers the theory behind the necessary cursing of the fig tree.
posted by storybored at 6:50 PM on March 4, 2006


An artificial cage creates artificial data.

Neurogenesis sounds very cool. There's nothing more exciting than a whole new field of research in its infancy.
posted by slatternus at 7:22 PM on March 4, 2006


dilettante, do you have a link about extreme stress increasing the likelihood of developing MS? I have MS, and I've heard tons and tons about how stress can exacerbate the disease when it's already extant, but I've never heard stress posited as a possible etiology. I'd love to read more about the idea.

I'm not sure how excited to get about the idea of neurogenesis as it relates to MS. MS is a neurological disease only because the central nervous system is the recipient of the actual problem: a wonky, self-destructive immune system. Creating more neurons seems only to provide more food for myelin-gobbling T cells.
posted by jesourie at 7:47 PM on March 4, 2006


Jesourie: Check the sixth paragraph on this page, or this article. Complete derail: the autoimmune thing with MS is still not proven, and there are some indications that it may not be what's going on at all. It isn't a theory I accept, but I try to keep fairly quiet about my position, beyond refusing treatment.
posted by dilettante at 8:06 PM on March 4, 2006


I know people who grew up under extremely stressful circumstances and did very well in life. George Soros would be an easily recognizable example. My observation is that environment and stress affects development but in entirely unpredictable ways. What destroys one may inspire and strengthen another. One man's obsession is another's genius.
posted by semmi at 8:24 PM on March 4, 2006


Thanks for those links, dilettante. Very interesting stuff!

And however you choose to treat (or rather, not treat), I wish you the best.
posted by jesourie at 8:29 PM on March 4, 2006


semmi's got it. Fascinating research, nonetheless.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:46 AM on March 5, 2006


I know people who grew up under extremely stressful circumstances and did very well in life.

You're confusing "doing well in life" with "braincell count" and/or "intelligence".

These things are not synonymous.

Who's your president?
posted by spazzm at 3:48 AM on March 5, 2006


Very interesting article (and of course you can never mention Princeton too many times).
posted by caddis at 4:36 AM on March 5, 2006


Princeton? Clown College?

....so, what if you're a stress junkie?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:28 AM on March 6, 2006


Thanks for the article. Just another reason to keep trying new things throughout life!

And as for this:
But Dr. Gould left her own 4-day-old child to return to the lab. Interesting.
posted by Cranberry at 1:05 PM PST on March 4


Interesting that you (and the author of the main article, actually) automatically assume the mother's in charge of child care.
posted by occhiblu at 11:33 AM on March 6, 2006


« Older Are you a Gulf War veteran still suffering from my...  |  I first read "Ask the Dust" in... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments