Research: How Exercise Benefits the Brain

How Exer­cise Ben­e­fits the Brain (NewYork Times):

To learn more about how exer­cise affects the brain, sci­en­tists in Ire­land recent­ly asked a group of seden­tary male col­lege stu­dents to take part in a mem­o­ry test fol­lowed by stren­u­ous exercise.

First, the young men watched a rapid-fire line­up of pho­tos with the faces and names of strangers. After a break, they tried to recall the names they had just seen as the pho­tos again zipped across a com­put­er screen. After­ward, half of the stu­dents rode a sta­tion­ary bicy­cle, at an increas­ing­ly stren­u­ous pace, until they were exhaust­ed. The oth­ers sat qui­et­ly for 30 min­utes. Then both groups took the brain-teas­er test again.

Notably, the exer­cised vol­un­teers per­formed sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter on the mem­o­ry test than they had on their first try, while the vol­un­teers who had rest­ed did not improve.”

Link to Study: Aer­o­bic exer­cise improves hip­pocam­pal func­tion and increas­es BDNF in the serum of young adult males. (PubMed)


Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty has been report­ed to improve cog­ni­tive func­tion in humans and rodents, pos­si­bly via a brain-derived neu­rotroph­ic fac­tor (BDNF)-regulated mechanism.

In this study of human sub­jects, we have assessed the effects of acute and chron­ic exer­cise on per­for­mance of a face-name match­ing task, which recruits the hip­pocam­pus and asso­ci­at­ed struc­tures of the medi­al tem­po­ral lobe, and the Stroop word-colour task, which does not, and have assessed cir­cu­lat­ing con­cen­tra­tions of BDNF and IGF‑1 in parallel.

The results show that a short peri­od of high-inten­si­ty cycling results in enhance­ments in per­for­mance of the face-name match­ing, but not the Stroop, task. These changes in cog­ni­tive func­tion were par­al­leled by increased con­cen­tra­tion of BDNF, but not IGF‑1, in the serum of exer­cis­ing sub­jects. 3 weeks of cycling train­ing had no effect on car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness, as assessed by VO2 scores, cog­ni­tive func­tion, or serum BDNF con­cen­tra­tion. Increas­es in fit­ness, cog­ni­tive func­tion and serum BDNF response to acute exer­cise were observed fol­low­ing 5 weeks of aer­o­bic training.

These data indi­cate that both acute and chron­ic exer­cise improve medi­al tem­po­ral lobe func­tion con­comi­tant with increased con­cen­tra­tions of BDNF in the serum, sug­gest­ing a pos­si­ble func­tion­al role for this neu­rotroph­ic fac­tor in exer­cise-induced cog­ni­tive enhance­ment in humans.”

To learn more, click on Phys­i­cal Exer­cise and Brain Health

Source of pic: Big­Stock­Pho­to


  1. Govin on December 12, 2011 at 6:28

    Which thing you want to refer gym or yoga? I think yoga is best way to keep your brain healthy.

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SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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