Adult neurogenesis in mammals is predominantly restricted to two brain regions, the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb (OB), suggesting that these two brain regions uniquely share functions that mediate its adaptive significance. Benefits of adult neurogenesis across these two regions appear to converge on increased neuronal and structural plasticity that subserves coding of novel, complex, and fine-grained information, usually with contextual components that include spatial positioning. By contrast, costs of adult neurogenesis appear to center on potential for dysregulation resulting in higher risk of brain cancer or psychological dysfunctions, but such costs have yet to be quantified directly. The three main hypotheses for the proximate functions and adaptive significance of adult neurogenesis, pattern separation, memory consolidation, and olfactory spatial, are not mutually exclusive and can be reconciled into a simple general model amenable to targeted experimental and comparative tests. Comparative analysis of brain region sizes across two major social ecological groups of primates, gregarious (mainly diurnal haplorhines, visually-oriented, and in large social groups) and solitary (mainly noctural, territorial, and highly reliant on olfaction, as in most rodents) suggest that solitary species, but not gregarious species, show positive associations of population densities and home range sizes with sizes of both the hippocampus and OB, implicating their functions in social territorial systems mediated by olfactory cues. Integrated analyses of the adaptive significance of adult neurogenesis will benefit from experimental studies motivated and structural by ecologically and socially relevant selective contexts.