Human brains generate new neurons throughout life. This miracle of lifelong brain regeneration allows lifelong learning, and is driven by complex interacting processes. One of the biological factors that can stimulate the formation of new brain neurons is the neurotrophic factor BDNF — Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor.
The neurogenesis story is not a simple one, but by focusing upon one part of it — the BDNF part — we may begin to get a grip on what keeps humans in the game, even as they age beyond their prime.
Consistent with the hypothesis that BDNF is a proneurogenic factor is evidence that neurogenesis decreases in BDNF knockout mice  and that increasing BDNF levels in the SVZ by adenovirus  or icv infusion [138, 139] increases the number of neuroblasts and new neurons in the SVZ and OB. Direct unilateral intrahippocampal infusion of BDNF increases neurogenesis in the DG, but the effect must be indirect and not by direct stimulation of progenitor cells because increased neurogenesis is evident bilaterally while exogenous BDNF appears to remain restricted to the infused hemisphere . The effects of BDNF on proliferation and neurogenesis also are influenced by other factors. __ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3874/
In other words, when BDNF acts to cause new brain cell generation, it acts as a “trigger” for multiple other factors and events in the brain, and does not act alone.
Nevertheless, you may want to learn various ways by which you can increase the BDNF levels in your brain:
- Intense exercise
- Intermittent fasting
- Reduce sugar and saturated fats
- Increase sunlight exposure (Vitamin D)
- Curcumin, Green Tea, Omega 3s, Resveratrol
- Avoid Obesity
- Socially Rich Environment
- Natural Anti-inflammatory Substances
Psychedelics and BDNF
Two studies using LSD found that the psychedelic enhanced the rate at which rabbits learned a new conditioned behavior, and that higher doses resulted in faster learning. The same researchers found that MDMA, MDA, and DOM all did as well. A more recent study using psilocybin found similar results, albeit only at low doses. It’s hard to draw any strong conclusions from a handful of studies like this―it’s a long way from simple associative learning in a rabbit or rat, to a complex human behavior (like playing the piano), but it’s a start. For researchers interested in treating debilitating psychological conditions like depression using psychedelic medicines, these are enormously promising results. __ https://www.psymposia.com/magazine/do-psychedelics-trigger-neurogenesis-heres-what-we-know/
Other Intrinsic Factors Influencing Neurogenesis
- Glucocorticoids w/ reduced neurogenesis
- GH/IGF1 w/ increased neurogenesis
- Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 w/ increased neurogenesis
- Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor w/ increased neurogenesis
- Epidermal Growth Factor w/ both increase and decrease
- Transforming growth factor Beta w/ mixed effects on neurogenesis
- Retinoic Acid w/ complex cell growth effects
- Neurotransmitters w/ neurotrophic effects
- Inflammatory factors w/ mostly negative effects on neurogenesis
When it comes to boosting neurogenesis and neuronal survival in the brain, moderate exercise is good, and it is inexpensive. Anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin are inexpensive and appear to be effective for preserving the brain into old age. One glass of red wine at night can’t hurt. 😉
An active social life helps, being sure to include persons younger than yourself — as well as some who are both older and more physically fit than yourself (inspiration).
Avoid depression whenever possible, remembering that when necessary antidepressants can boost BDNF levels and stimulate new nerve generation in the hippocampus and lateral ventricles.
New nerve cells throughout your lifespan can help you stay interested in your life and in new things and changing situations. An active and dynamic brain is less likely to become overwhelmed by the stresses and strains of daily life.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26519901 BDNF: Transducer for Antidepressant Effects
https://www.psymposia.com/magazine/do-psychedelics-trigger-neurogenesis-heres-what-we-know/ Psychedelics and neurogenesis
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3874/ “Adult Neurogenesis”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-derived_neurotrophic_factor Wikipedia: BDNF