Fred H. Gage was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and earned
his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida.
He later received his masterís degree and doctorate
from The Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Now a
Professor in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk
Institute for Biological Studies, Dr. Gage was the first
to discover that new neurons are born in the adult human
brain in a process called neurogenesis. Dr. Gage now
studies the cellular, molecular, and environmental influences
that regulate neurogenesis in the adult brain and spinal
cord. He also has done pioneering research linking an
enriched environment and physical exercise to increased
neurogenesis in the adult brain.
Dr. Gage has been the recipient of numerous awards,
including the 1993 Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering
Achievements in Health and Education, the Christopher
Reeves Medal, the Decade of the Brain Medal, the Max-Planck
Research Prize, and the Pasarow Award.
links to this scientist's home page and other related infomation
please see our resources
What are your favorite Web sites for keeping up on the
latest developments in neuroscience? I see that several
scientist are still active in their 70's. If someone is
considering a career change and has a passion for neuroscience,
in your judgement, would the 50's be too late an age to
begin a formal course of study?
are very good Web sites on Neuroscience that can be
helpful to readers with different degrees of training.
I generally read the primary journals, which means the
journals that present all the original data so that
I can determine how the experiments were conducted and
how the conclusions were formulated. However, depending
on your level of interest and training, you can find
great sites by using keywords that match your interest.
(Editor's Note: the Resources
section contains a list of sites related to this show)
your other point, I believe that you are never too old
to acquire new knowledge, and that in fact, the act
of learning is likely good for you. Making a career
change to the field of Neuroscience in your 50's is
not impossible, but one has to realize that there is
some risk and a lot of hard work. There is significant
need for highly qualified technical staff members of
a neuroscience team and much of what is needed can be
brought in from other work-related experience, or learned
on the job.
I have read studies where stress hormones cause a reduction
in the size of the hippocampus and that this may play
a part in trauma related mental illnesses such as Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder.
As I understand it, the smaller hippocampus connects to
fewer memories at a time. As the memories switch, flashbacks
occur. In some cases involving severe trauma at a young
age, the hippocampus is reduced in size enough, and the
memory switches are so complete, that there are several
different personalities. Also, has any study been done
to show how much of the hippocampal growth is due to a
reduction of the stress hormones and how much is due to
read of a recent study (involving only one person with
Dissociative Identity Disorder) in which brain scans showed
both an abnormally small hippocampus and different portions
of the brain that were active when different "personalities"
emerged. But no change of activity was noted when a faked
personality was imagined to emerge. This work showing
that the hippocampus can regrow tells me there is hope
for those suffering from extreme emotional trauma. In
fact, the finding that exercise can help accelerate hippocampal
growth makes sense in that exercise reduces stress and
thus stress hormones. This second question is a very important
one. While it has been shown in experimental animals that
increases in stress can reduce cell division in the brain
and that increased exercise can increase cell division,
the direct relationship between exercise and stress as
it relates to birth of new neurons in the brain has not
been completely answered. I do know that there are several
labs around the world that are working on this very problem.
My brother has Alzheimer's disease. If this condition
could be stopped, do you think that someday it may be
possible to regrow lost or damaged brain cells in an attempt
to rehabilitate such people?
am sorry to hear about your brother. At present, the cause
of Alzheimer's disease is not known, but there is significant
progress being made. Much more research needs to be done
on rehabilitation therapy with regard to aging and regrowth
of new neurons in humans, but I think that if the progression
of Alzheimer's disease could be halted, rehabilitation
therapy would be a very likely strategy to increase the
function of the brain.
What part of my brain, if any, is not utilized? Is it
possible stem cells could be used to counter or relearn
lost cerebral functions? What level of physical activity
most successfully contributes to improved brain ability?
For those plagued with bi-polar mental problems, does
brain study suggest any answers or cures?
use all their brain during their life, not just part of
the brain. It is true that one does not use all your brain
all the time. For example, the parts of the brain and
how you use your brain to read a book are different from
those used to write a book, or to play tennis. If new
cells were generated in the adult brain of an individual,
it is possible that these new cells could be used to either
increase the information learned, or to help in the learning
and remembering of new information. The new cells would
not likely have any memories in them alone. It is not
known how much exercise is needed in humans to generate
new cells. Based on experimental animal research it is
likely that not a lot of exercise is needed, but rather
that it should be regular and sustained for long periods
of time to maintain the newly born cells. There is significant
and important work in neuroscience that is being conducted
now on the Bi-polar mental problems. At a recent meeting
of the Society for Neuroscience there were hundreds of
papers presented on recent progress made in testing new
drugs and using imaging techniques like MRI and PET to
assist in the diagnosis and therapy .
back to top