Did you know that the adult brain can regrow brain cells?
For a long time, neuroscientists thought "adult neurogenesis" -- the ability to regrow brain cells -- was impossible.
Now, science has proven otherwise: Neurogenesis is absolutely possible in adult brains.
We even have a much better idea of how to influence this process, with things like exercise, meditation, psychedelics, and nootropics.
The flexibility of the brain
The old neuroscientist belief was that once a brain reached maturity, the number of neurons was finite. The brain cells you have were all you could have.
As it turns out, the brain is far more flexible than we thought.
Since the discovery of "adult neurogenesis" in 1998, when brain study researchers found new brain cells growing in an adult hippocampus, neuroscientists have been exploring new ways to maintain and grow a healthy brain.
What is neurogenesis?
Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons, or nerve cells, are generated in the brain.
This process occurs primarily during prenatal development, adolescence, as well as in certain regions of the adult brain.
In the adult brain, neurogenesis is most prominent in two main regions: the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb.
Hippocampus: The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with learning, memory, and emotional regulation. It's believed that the ongoing generation of new neurons in the hippocampus, even in adulthood, plays a role in these cognitive functions.
Olfactory Bulb: The olfactory bulb is involved in the sense of smell. New neurons generated here help maintain the brain's ability to adapt to new smells and experiences.
The process of neurogenesis involves the division and differentiation of neural stem cells or progenitor cells. These stem cells give rise to new neurons that integrate into existing neural circuits.
Things that affect neurogenesisMany factors have been identified that can potentially increase neurogenesis, particularly in the regions of the brain where it occurs, such as the hippocampus.
It's important to note that while these factors have been shown to have some influence on neurogenesis, the extent and mechanisms of their effects can vary.
Some factors that are believed to increase neurogenesis include:
- Physical Exercise
Regular aerobic exercise has been linked to increased levels of neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Exercise stimulates the release of various growth factors and neurotransmitters that promote the survival and differentiation of new neurons.
- Environmental enrichment
Exposure to an enriched environment with novel experiences, social interactions, and cognitive challenges can stimulate neurogenesis. This effect is thought to be related to the brain's adaptive response to new stimuli.
- Learning and cognitive stimulation
Engaging in activities that challenge the brain, such as learning new skills, solving puzzles, and engaging in intellectually stimulating tasks, can promote neurogenesis.
- Stress reduction
Chronic stress can have negative effects on neurogenesis, while practices that reduce stress, such as mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques, may promote neurogenesis.
- Antidepressant medications
Some antidepressant medications, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been shown to increase neurogenesis. This is thought to be related to their effects on neurotransmitter signaling.
- Diet and nutrition
Certain dietary factors, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, may have a positive impact on neurogenesis.
Adequate sleep is important for overall brain health, and it has been suggested that sleep deprivation might negatively affect neurogenesis.
Hormones such as testosterone and estrogen have been implicated in regulating neurogenesis. For example, exercise-induced increases in testosterone have been associated with enhanced neurogenesis.
- Neurotrophic factors
Growth factors like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) play a crucial role in promoting the survival and differentiation of new neurons. Things including exercise, learning and sunlight can stimulate the release of BDNF.
There is evidence to suggest that psychedelics like DMT (dimethyltryptamine) and psilocybin (the active compound in "magic mushrooms") can promote neurogenesis, among other effects on brain function.
It's important to note that the extent to which these factors influence neurogenesis can vary depending on individual differences and other factors.
Moreover, while these factors can potentially promote neurogenesis, their effects might not always be solely due to neurogenesis itself; they can also impact other aspects of brain health and function.
Benefits of neurogenesis
While research is ongoing and not all aspects are fully understood, here are some potential benefits associated with neurogenesis:
Cognitive Function Improvement: The integration of new neurons into existing neural circuits could enhance cognitive functions such as learning, memory, problem-solving, and information processing. Neurogenesis in the hippocampus, for example, is linked to memory formation and spatial learning.
Mood Regulation and Emotional Well-being: Neurogenesis is closely tied to areas of the brain that regulate mood and emotions, such as the hippocampus. A balanced and healthy rate of neurogenesis might contribute to emotional resilience and a reduced risk of mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Stress Resilience: Some research suggests that increased neurogenesis could help the brain adapt to stressors more effectively. A healthier and more adaptable brain might respond more resiliently to stress, reducing the risk of stress-related cognitive impairments.
Neurological Repair and Recovery: Neurogenesis may play a role in the brain's ability to repair itself after injury or damage. This could have implications for recovery from neurological conditions and brain injuries.
Neurodegenerative Disease Protection: Some studies have proposed that increased neurogenesis might be associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. However, the exact relationship is complex and requires further investigation.
Adaptation to New Experiences: Neurogenesis in the olfactory bulb, involved in the sense of smell, allows the brain to adapt to new smells and experiences. This process helps the brain maintain its plasticity and adaptability in response to the environment.
Long-Term Brain Health: Maintaining an ongoing process of neurogenesis could contribute to the long-term health and vitality of the brain. It might help counteract age-related cognitive decline and support overall cognitive longevity.
Antidepressant Effects: Some antidepressant treatments are believed to work, at least in part, by promoting neurogenesis. The growth of new neurons could contribute to improved mood and a reduction in depressive symptoms.
Enhanced Learning: Neurogenesis is thought to play a role in learning and memory processes. The addition of new neurons could potentially make the brain more receptive to new information and facilitate the formation of new memories.
Best nootropics for neurogenesis
Nootropics, often referred to as "smart drugs" or "cognitive enhancers," are substances that some people believe can improve cognitive functions such as memory, focus, creativity, and overall brain function.
Some popular nootropics include caffeine, nicotine and modafinil. However, not all nootropics promote neurogenesis to exert their beneficial effects.
Nootropics that do enhance neurogenesis include lion’s mane mushroom, tiger milk mushroom, bacopa monnieri, curcumin, resveratrol, and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid).
We are very proud of our Super Nootropic Mushroom Coffee as it’s been specially formulated with a variety of neurogenesis-promoting substances, including lion’s mane mushroom, bacopa monnieri and resveratrol.
We also offer high-strength lion's mane mushroom capsules, high in compounds known as hericenones and erinacines, which have been shown to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production. NGF is a protein that plays a crucial role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons.
The once-held belief that the adult brain couldn't generate new neurons has been overturned by groundbreaking research on neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis is the process through which new neurons are generated, occurring primarily during prenatal development, adolescence, and in specific regions of the adult brain, such as the hippocampus and olfactory bulb.
Various factors have been identified that can influence neurogenesis, including physical exercise, sleep, nutrition and nootropics.
When considering nootropics to support neurogenesis, it's important to choose substances that have shown promise in scientific research. Lion's mane mushroom, bacopa monnieri, curcumin, resveratrol, and DHA are among the compounds that have demonstrated potential neurogenesis-promoting effects.
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