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Study: To improve brain health you need BOTH aerobic and cognitive exercise

– Neur­al net­works. Pho­to cred­it: Radu Jianu, Brown Uni­ver­si­ty

Men­tal, phys­i­cal exer­cis­es pro­duce dis­tinct brain ben­e­fits (Sci­ence Dai­ly):

Cog­ni­tive brain train­ing improves exec­u­tive func­tion where­as aer­o­bic activ­i­ty improves mem­o­ry, accord­ing to new Cen­ter for Brain­Health research at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las…healthy adults who par­tic­i­pat­ed in cog­ni­tive train­ing demon­strat­ed pos­i­tive changes in exec­u­tive brain func­tion as well as a 7.9 per­cent increase in glob­al brain flow com­pared to study coun­ter­parts who par­tic­i­pat­ed in an aer­o­bic exer­cise pro­gram. The aer­o­bic exer­cise group showed increas­es in imme­di­ate and delayed mem­o­ry per­for­mance that were not seen in the cog­ni­tive train­ing group.

Most peo­ple tell me that they want a bet­ter mem­o­ry and notice mem­o­ry changes as they get old­er,” said Dr. Mark D’Esposito…“While mem­o­ry is impor­tant, exec­u­tive func­tions such as deci­sion-mak­ing and the abil­i­ty to syn­the­size infor­ma­tion are equal­ly, if not more so, but we often take them for grant­ed. The take­away: Aer­o­bic activ­i­ty and rea­son­ing train­ing are both valu­able tools that give your brain a boost in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Study: Dis­tinct Brain and Behav­ioral Ben­e­fits from Cog­ni­tive vs. Phys­i­cal Train­ing: A Ran­dom­ized Tri­al in Aging Adults (Fron­tiers in Human Neu­ro­science)

  • Abstract: Insid­i­ous declines in nor­mal aging are well-estab­lished. Emerg­ing evi­dence sug­gests that non-phar­ma­co­log­i­cal inter­ven­tions, specif­i­cal­ly cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal train­ing, may counter dimin­ish­ing age-relat­ed cog­ni­tive and brain func­tions. This ran­dom­ized tri­al com­pared effects of two train­ing pro­to­cols: cog­ni­tive train­ing (CT) vs. phys­i­cal train­ing (PT) on cog­ni­tion and brain func­tion in adults 56–75 years. Seden­tary par­tic­i­pants (N = 36) were ran­dom­ized to either CT or PT group for 3 h/week over 12 weeks. They were assessed at base­line-, mid-, and post-train­ing using neu­rocog­ni­tive, MRI, and phys­i­o­log­i­cal mea­sures. The CT group improved on exec­u­tive func­tion where­as PT group’s mem­o­ry was enhanced…The pre­lim­i­nary evi­dence indi­cates that increased cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal activ­i­ty improves brain health in dis­tinct ways. Rea­son­ing train­ing enhanced frontal net­works shown to be inte­gral to top-down cog­ni­tive con­trol and brain resilience…Exercise did not improve cere­brovas­cu­lar response, although CBF increased in hip­pocampi of those with mem­o­ry gains. Dis­tinct ben­e­fits incen­tivize test­ing effec­tive­ness of com­bined pro­to­cols to strength­en brain health.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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