Adult neurogenesis is often considered an archaic trait that has undergone a 'phylogenetic reduction' from amphibian ancestors to humans. However, adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus might actually be a late-evolved trait. In non-mammals, adult hippocampal neurogenesis is not restricted to the equivalents of the dentate gyrus, which also show different connectivity and functionality compared to their mammalian counterpart. Moving actively in a changing world and dealing with novelty and complexity regulate adult neurogenesis. New neurons might thus provide the cognitive adaptability to conquer ecological niches rich with challenging stimuli.
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Disruption of NREM sleep and sleep-related spatial memory consolidation in mice lacking adult hippocampal neurogenesis
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The author thanks E. Brenowitz and P. Bateson for comments on the manuscript that have helped shape the evolutionary perspective.
The author declares no competing financial interests.
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Kempermann, G. New neurons for 'survival of the fittest'. Nat Rev Neurosci 13, 727–736 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3319
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