Synopsis Previous to the 1980s, the prevailing neuroscience dogma held that no new neurons were produced in the brains of adult mammals. Now, we understand that the production of new neurons, or neurogenesis, is a common and plastic process in the adult brain. To date, however, researchers have not come to a unified understanding of the functional significance of neurogenesis. Several factors have been shown to modulate hippocampal neurogenesis including spatial learning, stress, and aspects of environmental change, but questions still remain. How do these modulating factors overlap? Which aspects of environmental change induce a stress response? Is there a relationship between hippocampal neurogenesis, the stress response, and environmental change? Can this relationship be altered when taking into consideration other factors such as perception and predictability of the environment? Finally, do results from neurobiological research on laboratory rodents translate to wild systems? This review attempts to address these questions and synthesize research from the fields of ecology, psychology, and behavioral neuroscience.
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