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Study: Physical exercise can enhance neuroplasticity in adult brains, accelerating neural repair

Group_stretching_exercisesPhys­i­cal activ­i­ty may leave the brain more open to change (EurekAlert)

Learn­ing, mem­o­ry, and brain repair depend on the abil­i­ty of our neu­rons to change with expe­ri­ence. Now, researchers report­ing in the Cell Press jour­nal Cur­rent Biol­o­gy on Decem­ber 7 have evi­dence from a small study in peo­ple that exer­cise may enhance this essen­tial plas­tic­i­ty of the adult brain.

We pro­vide the first demon­stra­tion that mod­er­ate lev­els of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty enhance neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in the visu­al cor­tex of adult humans,” says Clau­dia Lunghi of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pisa in Italy… “By show­ing that mod­er­ate lev­els of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty can boost the plas­tic poten­tial of the adult visu­al cor­tex, our results pave the way to the devel­op­ment of non-inva­sive ther­a­peu­tic strate­gies exploit­ing the intrin­sic brain plas­tic­i­ty in adult sub­jects,” she adds.

…espe­cial­ly good news for peo­ple with ambly­opia, which is gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered to be untreat­able in adults. “Our study sug­gests that phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, which is also ben­e­fi­cial for the gen­er­al health of the patient, could be used to increase the effi­cien­cy of the treat­ment in adult patients,” Lunghi says. “So, if you have a lazy eye, don’t be lazy your­self!”

Study: A cycling lane for brain rewiring (Cur­rent Biol­o­gy)

  • From the abstract: Brain plas­tic­i­ty, defined as the capa­bil­i­ty of cere­bral neu­rons to change in response to expe­ri­ence, is fun­da­men­tal for behav­ioral adapt­abil­i­ty, learn­ing, mem­o­ry, func­tion­al devel­op­ment, and neur­al repair. The visu­al cor­tex is a wide­ly used mod­el for study­ing neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and the under­ly­ing mech­a­nisms. Plas­tic­i­ty is max­i­mal in ear­ly devel­op­ment, with­in the so-called crit­i­cal peri­od, while its lev­els abrupt­ly decline in adult­hood. Recent stud­ies, how­ev­er, have revealed a sig­nif­i­cant resid­ual plas­tic poten­tial of the adult visu­al cor­tex by show­ing that, in adult humans, short-term monoc­u­lar depri­va­tion alters ocu­lar dom­i­nance by home­o­sta­t­i­cal­ly boost­ing respons­es to the deprived eye . In ani­mal mod­els, a reopen­ing of crit­i­cal peri­od plas­tic­i­ty in the adult pri­ma­ry visu­al cor­tex has been obtained by a vari­ety of envi­ron­men­tal manip­u­la­tions, such as dark expo­sure, or envi­ron­men­tal enrich­ment, togeth­er with its crit­i­cal com­po­nent of enhanced phys­i­cal exer­cise . Among these non-inva­sive pro­ce­dures, phys­i­cal exer­cise emerges as par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing for its poten­tial of appli­ca­tion to clin­ics, though there has been a lack of exper­i­men­tal evi­dence avail­able that phys­i­cal exer­cise actu­al­ly pro­motes visu­al plas­tic­i­ty in humans. Here we report that short-term home­o­sta­t­ic plas­tic­i­ty of the adult human visu­al cor­tex induced by tran­sient monoc­u­lar depri­va­tion is potent­ly boost­ed by mod­er­ate lev­els of vol­un­tary phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. These find­ings could have a bear­ing in ori­ent­ing future research in the field of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty appli­ca­tion to clin­i­cal research.

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