Adult neural stem cells are the source for restoring injured brain tissue. We used repetitive imaging to follow single stem cells in the intact and injured adult zebrafish telencephalon in vivo and found that neurons are generated by both direct conversions of stem cells into postmitotic neurons and via intermediate progenitors amplifying the neuronal output. We observed an imbalance of direct conversion consuming the stem cells and asymmetric and symmetric self-renewing divisions, leading to depletion of stem cells over time. After brain injury, neuronal progenitors are recruited to the injury site. These progenitors are generated by symmetric divisions that deplete the pool of stem cells, a mode of neurogenesis absent in the intact telencephalon. Our analysis revealed changes in the behavior of stem cells underlying generation of additional neurons during regeneration.