Adult neurogenesis occurs in two privileged microenvironments, the hippocampal subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus and the subventricular zone (SVZ) along the lateral ventricle. This review focuses on accumulating evidence suggesting that the activity of specific brain regions or bodily states influences SVZ cell proliferation and neurogenesis. Neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin have been shown to have long-range effects through neuronal projections into the SVZ. Local γ-aminobutyric acid and glutamate signaling have demonstrated effects on SVZ proliferation and neurogenesis, but an extra-niche source of these neurotransmitters remains to be explored and options will be discussed. There is also accumulating evidence that diseases and bodily states such as Alzheimer’s disease, seizures, sleep and pregnancy influence SVZ cell proliferation. With such complex behavior and environmentally-driven factors that control subregion-specific activity, it will become necessary to account for overlapping roles of multiple neurotransmitter systems on neurogenesis when developing cell therapies or drug treatments.