Death of cortical neurons

Jan Vorbrueggen jan at neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de
Thu Feb 15 07:00:16 EST 1996


In article
<Pine.SUN.3.91.960214140041.29275E-100000 at great-gray.owlnet.rice.edu>
smlamb at OWLNET.RICE.EDU (Sydney M Lamb) writes:

   I would like to get some estimate of the number of cortical neurons that
   die per day in a normal person (no pathological condition present).  Better
   yet, how about a normal adolescent, a normal young adult, and a normal
   older person?

Somebody in Kiel, Germany, did a re-measurement of some classic experiments in
this area about five years ago. It turns out that the old experiments had
significant systematic errors - they didn't account for the fact that tissue
from older persons contains less water and thus shrinks less when being
fixed. This lowered the density of cells for older brains and by deduction the
total number of cells, leading to an overestimate of the "natural" neuronal
death rate by at least an order of magnitude. The rate seems to be pretty much
independent of age; the total difference after 70 years of life is in the 3-5%
range, IIRC.

   Also, what happens to the rate when alcohol is being consumed?

That probably depends non-linearly on the rate and duration of alcohol
consumption. 

	Jan



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