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Reviews in the Neurosciences

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Volume 26, Issue 3


Evaluating the functional state of adult-born neurons in the adult dentate gyrus of the hippocampus: from birth to functional integration

Andrea Aguilar-Arredondo
  • Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Circuito Exterior s/n, 04510 Coyoacán, D.F., México
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Clorinda Arias
  • Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Circuito Exterior s/n, 04510 Coyoacán, D.F., México
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Angélica Zepeda
  • Corresponding author
  • Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Circuito Exterior s/n, 04510 Coyoacán, D.F., México
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
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Published Online: 2015-03-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2014-0071


Hippocampal neurogenesis occurs in the adult brain in various species, including humans. A compelling question that arose when neurogenesis was accepted to occur in the adult dentate gyrus (DG) is whether new neurons become functionally relevant over time, which is key for interpreting their potential contributions to synaptic circuitry. The functional state of adult-born neurons has been evaluated using various methodological approaches, which have, in turn, yielded seemingly conflicting results regarding the timing of maturation and functional integration. Here, we review the contributions of different methodological approaches to addressing the maturation process of adult-born neurons and their functional state, discussing the contributions and limitations of each method. We aim to provide a framework for interpreting results based on the approaches currently used in neuroscience for evaluating functional integration. As shown by the experimental evidence, adult-born neurons are prone to respond from early stages, even when they are not yet fully integrated into circuits. The ongoing integration process for the newborn neurons is characterised by different features. However, they may contribute differently to the network depending on their maturation stage. When combined, the strategies used to date convey a comprehensive view of the functional development of newly born neurons while providing a framework for approaching the critical time at which new neurons become functionally integrated and influence brain function.

Keywords: electrophysiology; IEGs; immunohistochemistry; integration; methods; morphology; neurogenesis; optogenetics; time windows


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About the article

Corresponding author: Angélica Zepeda, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Circuito Exterior s/n, 04510 Coyoacán, D.F., México, e-mail:

Received: 2014-10-12

Accepted: 2015-01-09

Published Online: 2015-03-09

Published in Print: 2015-06-01

Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences, Volume 26, Issue 3, Pages 269–279, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2014-0071.

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