A study on mice shows that animals who run on an exercise wheel create more new cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in learning and memory. Now, scientists are trying to find out if the extra brain cells make mice smarter. Some mice got to use the running wheel when they wanted to. Others were trained to learn the location of a hidden underwater platform, and still others swam. An injected chemical marker identified newly created brain cells in the hippocampus for each group. While this question remains unanswered, leader of the study, Fred Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, says: "More people in my lab have started running since we found this result." The outcome has sent scientists scurrying for explanation. William Greenough of the University of Illinois said the findings might indeed mean that jogging can boost the number of hippocampus brain cells in people ( Nature Neuroscience , Vol 2, No 3).
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