According to a fascinating new study of aging brains and aerobic workouts, exercise can alter important parts of our brain as we age, improving aspects of thinking and remembering. The study, which included older African-Americans, Finds that unrelated portions of the brain’s memory center initiate interactions in complex and healthy new ways after regular exercise, rapid memory function.
The findings expand our understanding of how moving thinking is thinking and also underscores the importance of staying active, no matter our age.
The idea that physical activity improves brain health has so far been well established. Animals and people related experiments Show exercise increases neurons in the hippocampus, which are essential for memory formation and storage, while also improving thinking skills. Among older people, Regular physical activity helps reduce the normal loss of brain volume, Which may help prevent age-related memory loss and possibly reduce the risk of dementia.
There have also been indications that through exercise, remote parts of the brain can talk among themselves. in 2016 MRI Study, For example, researchers found that different parts of the brain come to light at the same time among collegiate runners but less so among depressed students. This paired brain activity is considered a form of communication, allowing parts of the brain to work together and improve thinking skills despite not sharing a physical relationship. In runners, the synchronized excerpts related to attention, decision making, and working memory suggest that running and fitness probably contributed to the Kenner mind.
But those students were young and healthy, facing imminent danger of memory loss. Little was yet known about whether and how practice could alter the cricier, older brain’s communication systems, and what effect, if any, rewiring would have on thinking.
So, for the new study, which was published in January in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Mark Gluck, a professor of neuroscience at Rutgers University in NJR, and his colleagues decided to see what happened inside the brain and much more Older people if they started working out.
In particular, he thought of his medial temporal lobe. This part of the brain contains the hippocampus and is the core of our memory center. Unfortunately, its internal functioning often begins to bounce back with age, leading to deterioration in thinking and memory. But Dr. Gluck suspected that exercise could alter that trajectory.
With the help, as director of the Aging and Brain Health Alliance at Rutgers, he was already leading an ongoing exercise experiment. Working with local churches and community centers, he and his colleagues previously recruited sedentary, older African-American men and women from the Newark area. Volunteers, most of whom were in their 60s, to check on their health and fitness, Drs. Visited Gluc’s lab, accompanied by cognitive tests. Some even agreed to scan their brain activity.
Some started working, while others opted to be a sedentary control group. All initially shared the same fitness and memory function. The exercise group attends hourly aerobic dance classes twice a week at a church or community center for 20 weeks.
Now, Dr. Glook and her research colleague Neha Sinha, along with other colleagues, invited 34 of the volunteers who had completed the earlier brain scans to return for the other. Seventeen of them, meanwhile, were exercising; There was no rest. The groups also repeated cognitive tests.
Scientists then began to compare and quickly notice the subtle differences in how the exerciser’s brain operates. Their scans showed more coordinated activity among the sedentary group than their medial temporal lobe, and this activity was more dynamic. Portions of the practitioners’ lobes will come to light simultaneously, and then, within seconds, with other sections of the lobe. Dr. Gluck says, as if the circuit on a ball was a smoothly trading partner. The brains of exercisers “will rearrange their connections flexibly”, he says, in a way that cannot be the brains of a sedentary group.
Just as important, those changes captured people’s thinking and memories. Practitioners performed better than ever on testing their ability to learn and retain information and apply it logically to new situations. Such agile thinking involves a medial temporal lobe, Drs. Glook says, and declines with age. But older exercisers scored higher in the beginning, and those whose brains displayed the newest interconnections now outstripped the rest.
The study included older African-Americans, however, a group that has been underrepresented in health research, but may not be representative of all aging people. Nevertheless, with that caveat, “it seems that the nervous flexibility” gained from exercising a few times a week “directly leads to memory flexibility,” Drs. Glook says.