Anyone training for a marathon knows that individual running sessions add up over time and result in a significant improvement in physical fitness. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the cognitive benefits of workouts also accumulate to achieve long-term cognitive gains. So far, there has been little research to describe and support the underlying neurobiology. In a new paper presented this week on the effects of movement on the brain at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in San Francisco, researchers find that changes in the brain that occur after a single workout are predictions about it What happens with prolonged physical training over time.
"There is a strong and direct relationship between physical activity and how your brain works," says Wendy Suzuki of New York University (NYU), who directs a symposium on the subject at the CNS. "People still do not associate physical health with brain and cognitive health, they think about putting on a bikini or losing the last pound, not all the brain systems that improve and enhance them with each workout."
New research shows how different types, levels and intensities of physical activity improve brain function. Cognitive neuroscientists hope for a change in the way the general public exercises ̵
The new study shows that the immediate cognitive effects of long-term motion mirrors are the first of their kind, as short and long-term effects are typically studied in several studies, says Michelle Voss of the University of Iowa, who led the study. The initial results of her team are good news for the field of cognitive neuroscience, as they suggest that brain changes observed after a single exercise study may be a type of biomarker for long-term training.
Study participants underwent fMRI brain scans and performed memory tests before and after light and moderate intensity individual sessions and after a 12-week training program. The researchers found that those who saw the greatest improvements in brain cognitive and functional connectivity after moderate exercise sessions with moderate intensity showed the highest long-term gains in cognition and connectivity.
Recurrent cycles with motorized pedals were used in the study. The participants can either use their own power to turn the pedals, or let the pedals do the work. "This feature has allowed us to keep the pedal speed constant while changing the heart rate only between light conditions and moderate intensity," says Voss. "This is a novelty for acute exercise paradigms that often use sitting as a control condition."
Voss looks forward to replicating this first study with larger samples. Her lab is currently recruiting participants for a similar study that includes 6 months of training rather than 3 months to give participants more time to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness. In the meantime, however, she says, "Think about how physical activity can help your current understanding, and see what works, and the benefits of physical activity can add up day by day."
This is Michelle Carlson from Johns Hopkins University working to bring this message into a weekly volunteer engagement for older adults through a novel program called the Experience Corps Program, which teaches socio-economically disadvantaged groups, to care for children in local elementary schools , "We need to overcome socio-economic barriers such as cost and accessibility to motivate older people to engage in regular healthy behaviors," says Carlson. "And many people do not appreciate the power of physical activity for our brains."
Several studies from the Experience Corps program have shown that regular walking and other physical activity generated by volunteering have led to an improvement in memory and other factors affecting cognitive functions as well as changes in the prefrontal cortex after 6 months of physical activity in cognitively vulnerable adults. "These and related findings in my lab and elsewhere have helped to understand that the focus on low-intensity lifestyle activities is increasingly recognized as an important and scalable intervention in promoting physical activity," she says.
3-D game to simulate real activities for perception and mobility. Carlson will present new data on 14 participants at the CNS meeting who have completed a 5-week engagement with the game. "What's cool is that most participants, regardless of the cognitive and physical limitations, learn baselines and continually improve during sessions," she says. "We want to help a large part of the aging population, who are sedentary or unable to develop volunteer opportunities, by offering opportunities to increase meaningful physical activity."
Suzuki has experienced the transformative power of physical activity first-hand. As you lose weight, she notices that her memory is improving over time. She was so fascinated by the connection between physical activity and brain function that she completely transformed her laboratory, from a lab that examined the hippocampus in a nonhuman primate to a lab that focused exclusively on human perception and exercise. "I've really fooled everything," she says.
There are a number of questions that can help cognitive neuroscientists answer questions – how much and what types of exercises are best for brain health, and how the findings are translated by young people. healthy populations for the elderly, endangered. Suzuki hopes to see improved neuroimaging techniques over the next few years that better capture what happens in the brain during and after exercise.
All training intensities benefit older brains
The symposium "Imaging the Immediate and Long-Term Impact of Movement on Humans" will be held during the CNS Annual Meeting in San Francisco with lectures by Michelle Voss and Michelle Carlson, as well as Michael Yassa and Emrah Duzel. www.cogneurosociety.org/mycns/
Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Exercise adds up to big brain thrusts (2019, March 24)
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