Adult hippocampal neurogenesis, a once unorthodox concept, has changed into one of the most rapidly growing fields in neuroscience. The present report results from the ECNP targeted expert meeting in 2007 during which cellular plasticity changes were addressed in the adult brain, focusing on neurogenesis and apoptosis in hippocampus and frontal cortex. We discuss recent studies investigating factors that regulate neurogenesis with special emphasis on effects of stress, sleep disruption, exercise and inflammation, a group of seemingly unrelated factors that share at least two unifying properties, namely that they all regulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis and have all been implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. We conclude that although neurogenesis has been implicated in cognitive function and is stimulated by antidepressant drugs, its functional impact and contribution to the etiology of depression remains unclear. A lasting reduction in neurogenesis following severe or chronic stress exposure, either in adult or early life, may represent impaired hippocampal plasticity and can contribute to the cognitive symptoms of depression, but is, by itself, unlikely to produce the full mood disorder. Normalization of reductions in neurogenesis appears at least partly, implicated in antidepressant action.