Best neuroscience figure of 2013
I know it is only June, but I’m confident that the above figure from Gerd Kempermann’s recent Perspective piece in Science Magazine entitled What the Bomb said about the Brain will be my favorite neuroscience figure of the year. His article summarizes the findings of a recent publication by Spalding et al. in the journal Cell. Spalding and colleagues ingeniously exploited the fact that above ground nuclear weapons testing from 1945 to 1963 produced a peak in carbon isotope 14 levels. Some of these isotopes made their way into our bodies and can be used to date the age of cells (in this case neurons). In brief, their findings confirmed that adult neurogenesis is limited to the hippocampus in humans (especially in the dentate gyrus). Moreover, neurogenesis appears to be limited to a subpopulation of hippocampal neurons that turn over at a rate of 1.75% a year, while the other population of hippocampal neurons die and are never replaced.