Brain adds new cells during puberty that are vital in adulthood

Mar 6, 2013 by

In a recent study (that used hamsters), neuroscientists showed that during puberty, the brain adds new cells in the amygdala (and its connected regions) – the brain region that deals with reading and understanding social cues. For humans, that means evaluating body language and facial expressions (especially in the opposite sex). But all these cells didn’t die off after puberty; some became part of the neural networks involved in adult social and sexual behavior. This was even more prevalent in male hamsters raised in an “enriched environment” (bigger cage with a running wheel, nesting materials and other features – vs. a plain cage). For these males, even more of the new brain cells survived and became functional.