Neurogenesis and Reproduction
Continuous generation of new neurons in adulthood, namely adult neurogenesis, could be found in two neurogenic regions in the brain, the subventricular zone and hippocampus. Neurogenesis is considered as a specific form of neuroplasticity, and it ultimately influences the behavior of an individual. While neurogenesis in the hippocampus is widely accepted to contribute to memory functions, subventricular zone neurogenesis is suggested to have roles in olfactory, social and reproductive functions. This chapter reviews recent studies which examine the interrelationship between neurogenesis and reproductive behaviors including mating, pregnancy and parental behaviors. The regulation of neurogenesis by reproductive behaviors is widely observed across different species, and the regulation is under the control of gonadal or adrenal hormones. As the new born neurons require a few days to mature, the increase in cell proliferation usually shows a delayed functional significance at later reproductive stages. Blocking neurogenesis by cytostatic compounds confirms the necessity of neurogenesis in reproductive functions. These findings exemplified the modification of neurogenesis by experience, and provide a novel perspective on the function of gonadal hormones in modulation of neuroplasticity. Future studies on the mechanism of neurogenesis regulation will be needed for the understanding and potential applications of neuroplasticity in reproduction.
KeywordsOlfactory Bulb Maternal Behavior Adult Neurogenesis Hippocampal Neurogenesis Gonadal Hormone
The work from the authors are supported by funding from the Jessie Ho Professorship in Neuroscience (The University of Hong Kong for Educational Development and Research Limited) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No. 21609101.
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