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Preface/Front Matter

Fred H. Gage, Gerd Kempermann, Hongjun Song


The term “adult neurogenesis” is used to describe the observation that, in the adult mammalian brain, new neurons are born from stem cells residing in discrete locations and these new neurons migrate, differentiate, and mature into newly integrated, functioning cells. By virtue of this definition, adult neurogenesis is a process, not an event, and as such, can be dissected and examined in evermore discrete components. In general, researchers seek a complete understanding of not only the details of these separate components but also the purpose and function of this process as a whole. Once the tools became available to monitor and measure adult neurogenesis, the interest in this process grew enormously, not the least because the birth and integration of new neurons in the adult brain constitute the most extreme cases of neuroplasticity in the adult brain. While the phenomenon is interesting enough to investigate and understand in the normal, healthy brain, the fact that this process is also disrupted in many disease states adds substantially to the numbers of those studying adult neurogenesis. As a result, a new way of looking at brain therapy has emerged that incorporates the potential of generating new neurons in the context of aging and disease into the search for a strategy for “self-repair.”

The idea for this book originated from a meeting on adult neurogenesis in the adult brain held at the Banbury Conference Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in February 2006. In the secluded and intimate setting of this event, the

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