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Increasing NGF in the brain


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9 replies to this topic

#1

Posted 02 May 2004 - 12:07 AM


What are the implications of increasing the amount of human Nerve Growth Factor in the brain? Does it repair and/or creates new neurons within the brain? Idebenone is one such drug that seems to increase the NGF and it's stated benefits are essentially for those who've incurred any kind of brain damage but what kind of benefits does it have for a healthy brain? Does a long term increase in NGF correspond with a long term increase in overall intelligence (as vague and disconnected as that sounds)?

This fascinates me because it would seem to present a way of permanently increasing one's intelligence. Creating more neurons with more connections to one another would seem like a good way to increase intelligence and comprehension. Of course I cannot make the logical jump from increased NGF to increased brain size/neurons without some corroboration. This could very well prove ineffective for healthy users to increase the natural amount of NGF found in the brain, either way though I'd like to know. Thanks.
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#2 Cyto Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

Posted 02 May 2004 - 03:35 PM

What are the implications of increasing the amount of human Nerve Growth Factor in the brain? Does it repair and/or creates new neurons within the brain?


Neurotrophic factors eh? Well the group of these are pigment derived neurotrophic factor, brain derived neurotrophic factor, glial derived neurotrophic factor, and we could include parasite derived neurotrophic factor so we will. Overall these factors play a major part in persistence of the life of a neuron - up-regulating survival pathways such as Akt, suppression of JNK, up-regulation of Nuclear factor kappa B. All of them lead to suppression of apoptic mechanisms. If you are looking for something that would attempt to increase neurons try to purify some leukemia inhibitor factor, which seems to be up-regulated in surrounding neurons when a local neuron has apoptized and a replacement would occur. So overall this is the persistence of memory, I know that exercise can up-regulate BDNF Webpage and thus lead to a persistence of memory.
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#3 Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

Posted 02 May 2004 - 04:21 PM

Taking that one step further though, does the creation of neurons as a result of increased NGF make one more intelligent or able to process more information in a given time? It's nice to see that NGF can help maintain and protect neurons but at some point would substantially elevated levels of this substance cause the creation of many more neurons. The implication being that these new neurons over the long term would noticeably increase the overall amount of neurons in the brain, and in regions where one skill or intelligence is exercised more neuronal connections are created. I think this would be akin to early childhood where the brain is very malleable to establish skills in areas that it is exercised in.
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#4 ocsrazor Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

  • Location:Atlanta, GA

Posted 02 May 2004 - 11:39 PM

Cosmos I'm skeptical that large scale, nonspecific increases in NGF would do anything for intelligence. NGF, as far as we know right now, has no effect on neural stem cells in producing more neurons. What it does do is increase neurite (axon and dendrite) outgrowth. For this to be effective in increasing intelligence it would most likely have to be tied to specific sensory/behavioral events. This would mean injecting at sites in which you want to become more plastic at a very specific time. Just dumping lots of NGF in would be like hitting the brain with a hammer, where what you really want to do is very fine surgery. There is not a lot of NGF around in adult brains, because you usually do not want to disrupt any large scale structure that is there.
Even though children have more, it is still being released in very specific areas and in very small amounts. To use neurotrophic factors to do anything constructive will require quite a bit of research on how and when they change the structure of a neural network.

Best,
Peter

Edited by ocsrazor, 03 May 2004 - 02:20 AM.

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#5 Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

Posted 03 May 2004 - 12:17 AM

There was a study, of which I can't recall specifically, where it was shown that additional stem cells injected into the brain of a rat were used to repair and reconstruction of various parts of the brain. However at that point the remainder of the stem cells were stored in reserve for later use. Now if my memore isn't fogging up on me here this could mean that simply adding additional excess stem cells to an already healthy and complete brain would do nothing to enhance this already normal brain.

Stem cells aren't neurons though, and to increase nueritic growth as you put it without a necessarily increasing the amount of neurons by any significant amount could still mean a relative boost in intelligence. I know this is a rather large jump from the physical level, the brain structure, to the intangible intelligence but I'm just thinking outloud.

One thing I do agree on however is that more research is definitely needed. For instance the genes that control the brain ability to grow infinitely beyond it's hardwired phsyical limit might be the barrier that we must defeat. Mimicing the genes which function to improve memory and cognition and yet are only in a minority of very intelligent people, could allow a wider spectrum of society to experience genius like intelligence and photographic memory. The medications which could serve this purpose might ultimately provide us with that higher level of intelligence.
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#6 ocsrazor Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

  • Location:Atlanta, GA

Posted 03 May 2004 - 02:34 AM

Hi Cosmos,

You are absolutely right to think that additional cells will do very little to increase intelligence in a normal brain. The human brain is at maximum packing density for cell bodies, there really isn't any room for large increases in the number of cells.

There is lots of research to show that mammals with branchier (more axons and dendrites) brains are more intelligent, so on a surface level the idea that wholesale increasing their outgrowth might increase intelligence seems to be valid - BUT - what I was getting at above is that plasticity (how much structures are rearranged during learning) is a very tightly regulated process in the human brain, so you would have to be extremely careful how you alter it.

There are people who already have much higher capacity for intelligence in very specific domains and/or photographic memory. They are also autistic - with extreme social and communication disorders. This is tightly correlated with structural changes in the axons and dendrites and is likely because these people's brains are more able to make rapid structural changes than normal people. This also puts them at a distinct disadvantage for social and communications processing which require slow network changes.

The lesson being, large scale alteration of genetics is a very tricky game, and is not a technically easy route to enhancing intelligence (this is not the route I would predict that will provide the most effective bang for buck in research dollars).

Best,
Peter
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#7 saddlesblazing Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

Posted 03 December 2008 - 06:09 PM

Hi Cosmos,

You are absolutely right to think that additional cells will do very little to increase intelligence in a normal brain. The human brain is at maximum packing density for cell bodies, there really isn't any room for large increases in the number of cells.

There is lots of research to show that mammals with branchier (more axons and dendrites) brains are more intelligent, so on a surface level the idea that wholesale increasing their outgrowth might increase intelligence seems to be valid - BUT - what I was getting at above is that plasticity (how much structures are rearranged during learning) is a very tightly regulated process in the human brain, so you would have to be extremely careful how you alter it.

There are people who already have much higher capacity for intelligence in very specific domains and/or photographic memory. They are also autistic - with extreme social and communication disorders. This is tightly correlated with structural changes in the axons and dendrites and is likely because these people's brains are more able to make rapid structural changes than normal people. This also puts them at a distinct disadvantage for social and communications processing which require slow network changes.

The lesson being, large scale alteration of genetics is a very tricky game, and is not a technically easy route to enhancing intelligence (this is not the route I would predict that will provide the most effective bang for buck in research dollars).

Best,
Peter


I know this is an old post, but you seem pretty knowledgeable so I figured I would ask anyway. You mentioned that increasing NGF, and therefore altering genetics is not the easiest way to increase intelligence. What do you think would be the easiest way and hence the best target for research?
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#8 FunkOdyssey Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

  • Location:Manchester, CT USA

Posted 03 December 2008 - 07:45 PM

Unfortunately, that poster hasn't visited the board since April.
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#9 desperate788 Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:24 PM

so what to do to increase ngf in brain, a quick search didn't come up with an satisfactory answer.
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#10 saddlesblazing Re: Increasing NGF in the brain

Posted 09 December 2008 - 06:07 PM

so what to do to increase ngf in brain, a quick search didn't come up with an satisfactory answer.


I've read that Idebenone increases NGF.
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