Original research publication: (rather heavy going, but pretty pics!)

Functional Plasticity in Living Adult Mouse Brain

Researchers from MIT have dispelled a commonly held belief that adult brain cells don’t grow, when they discovered remodelling of dendritic branch tips in the visual cortex in living mature mice.

    “In 3-D time-lapse images, the brain cells look like plants sprouting together. Some push out tentative tendrils that grow around, or retract from contact with, neighboring cells. Dendrite tips that look like the thinnest twigs grow longer.”

Go here for a fuller description, plus video views of neurones in living mouse brains.

Scientists have previously tended to focus on trying to regenerate the long axons, such as those damaged in spinal cord injuries — the new finding suggests a different part of the cell should be targeted: the dendrite. “Dendrite,” from the Greek word for tree, is a branched projection of a nerve cell that conducts electrical stimulation to the cell body.

The discovery might have future clinical implications…