The hippocampus plays a crucial role in the formation of spatial memories, and it is thought that adult hippocampal neurogenesis may participate in this form of learning. To better elucidate the relationship between neurogenesis and spatial learning, we examined both across the entire life span of mice. We found that cell proliferation, neuronal differentiation, and neurogenesis significantly decrease with age, and that there is an abrupt reduction in these processes early on, between 1.5-3 months of age. After this, the neurogenic capacity continues to decline steadily. The initial abrupt decline in adult neurogenesis was paralleled by a significant reduction in Morris Water Maze performance, however overall learning and memory remained constant thereafter. Further analysis of the search strategies employed revealed that reductions in neurogenesis in the aging brain were strongly correlated with the adoption of spatially imprecise search strategies. Overall, performance measures of learning and memory in the Morris Water Maze were maintained at relatively constant levels in aging animals due to an increase in the use of spatially imprecise search strategies.
Gil-Mohapel, J., Brocardo, P. S., Choquette, W., Gothard, R., Simpson, J. M., & Christie, B. R. (2013). Hippocampal Neurogenesis Levels Predict WATERMAZE Search Strategies in the Aging Brain. PLoS ONE, 8(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0075125