Physical Exercise Beefs Up the Brain –

Posted on October 11, 2013


Boost your brainpower. Train your brain. These days its hard not to become distracted by ads for the latest program that promises to help you learn faster and hold onto memories longer.

Regular aerobic exercise has been associated with increased cognitive abilities, including benefits to learning and memory.But, even as scientists continue to explore the effects of various brain-training programs, a wealth of evidence makes one thing quite clear: physical exercise benefits the brain. Over a decade of research in animals and people shows that engaging in regular aerobic activity leads to changes in the brain associated with improved cognition.Exercise increases birth of new nerve cellsOne of the earliest clues about exercise-induced changes in the brain came in the late 1990s, when a group of scientists decided to compare the brains of mice given unlimited access to an exercise wheel runners to those of mice without exercise wheels in their cages non-runners.Compared with the non-runners, the researchers discovered that physically fit mice had double the number of new nerve cells in a region of the hippocampus — an area of the brain involved in learning and memory. When the scientists later taught the runners and non-runners to navigate a water maze, they found the runners learned the task faster than the non-runners and took a more direct route to the maze end. Fred Gage, a neuroscientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies who led both studies, explained that the researchers were \”very surprised\” to find that the physical activity of a mouse \”affects the number of new brain cells and impacts its ability to remember things.\” At the time, scientists largely agreed the brain affects behavior. Gages studies suggested the opposite was also true.

via Physical Exercise Beefs Up the Brain –