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Great news: The New York Times acknowledges that (as clearly documented for 10+ years) Exercise and Brain Training are BOTH crucial for Lifelong Brain Fitness

Exer­cise May Enhance the Effects of Brain Train­ing (The New York Times):

..an inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science sug­gests that com­bin­ing intense exer­cise and brain train­ing might, over time, ampli­fy the ben­e­fits of both for the brain, even in peo­ple whose minds already are work­ing well…scientists at McMas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty in Hamil­ton, Ontario, began to won­der recent­ly whether brain train­ing and exer­cise train­ing might be com­ple­men­tary, with exer­cise prompt­ing the cre­ation of baby neu­rons that brain train­ing would then strengthen…the study’s find­ings sug­gest that exer­cis­ing both our bod­ies and minds may pro­vide the great­est boost to our mem­o­ries…”

The Study

The Effects of Phys­i­cal Exer­cise and Cog­ni­tive Train­ing on Mem­o­ry and Neu­rotroph­ic Fac­tors (Jour­nal of Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science).

  • Abstract: This study exam­ined the com­bined effect of phys­i­cal exer­cise and cog­ni­tive train­ing on mem­o­ry and neu­rotroph­ic fac­tors in healthy, young adults. Nine­ty-five par­tic­i­pants com­plet­ed 6 weeks of exer­cise train­ing, com­bined exer­cise and cog­ni­tive train­ing, or no train­ing (con­trol). Both the exer­cise and com­bined train­ing groups improved per­for­mance on a high-inter­fer­ence mem­o­ry task, where­as the con­trol group did not. In con­trast, nei­ther train­ing group improved on gen­er­al recog­ni­tion per­for­mance, sug­gest­ing that exer­cise train­ing selec­tive­ly increas­es high-inter­fer­ence mem­o­ry that may be linked to hip­pocam­pal func­tion. Indi­vid­u­als who expe­ri­enced greater fit­ness improve­ments from the exer­cise train­ing (i.e., high respon­ders to exer­cise) also had greater increas­es in the serum neu­rotroph­ic fac­tors brain-derived neu­rotroph­ic fac­tor and insulin-like growth fac­tor-1. These high respon­ders to exer­cise also had bet­ter high-inter­fer­ence mem­o­ry per­for­mance as a result of the com­bined exer­cise and cog­ni­tive train­ing com­pared with exer­cise alone, sug­gest­ing that poten­tial syn­er­gis­tic effects might depend on the avail­abil­i­ty of neu­rotroph­ic fac­tors. These find­ings are espe­cial­ly impor­tant, as mem­o­ry ben­e­fits accrued from a rel­a­tive­ly short inter­ven­tion in high-func­tion­ing young adults.

The Study in Context

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

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