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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stressful events kill brain cells

A single episode of severe stress can be enough to kill off new nerve cells in the brain, research suggests.

Rosalind Franklin University researchers believe their finding may give new insights into the development of depression.

Working on rats, they found that cells were lost in the hippocampus, an area of the brain which processes learning, memory and emotion.

The study features in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers found that in young rats, the stress of encountering aggressive, older rats did not stop the generation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus.

However, it did prevent the cells from surviving - leaving fewer new neurons for processing feelings and emotions.

The hippocampus is one of two regions of the brain that continues to develop new nerve cells throughout life, in both rats and humans.


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