Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Timothy Schoenfeld recently published a research article in the journal Hippocampus entitled, “Adult neurogenesis alters response to an aversive distractor in a labyrinth maze without affecting spatial learning and memory.”
As a teacher of Animal Learning and Conditioning and Physiological Psychology primarily, he wrote this article to determine the function of newborn neurons in the brain.
He shared that the brain creates new neurons in adulthood and it is theorized that these new neurons are important for learning and memory. In these experiments, Dr. Schoenfeld used a genetically modified rat that can “turn off” the creation of new neurons and found that these rats were no worse at solving a complicated labyrinth maze.
However, in the presence of an aversive odor, peppermint, they were less distracted by its presence than the rats with adequate new neurons. This all suggests that new neurons in the brain are helpful for paying attention to and evaluating important signals in the environment for potential threats, implying a greater role than just simple learning and memory.
To read Dr. Schoenfeld’s full article in the Hippocampus journal, click here.