Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Exercise is good for the brain....

This is an interesting looking study.

The plasticity of the brain is something that I've been thinking on a little bit recently after reading The Shallows which details how too much internet use can change the way in which you brain is wired. (Basically it sets you up to be more easily distracted and less of a deep reader/thinker)

Anyway, this study sees exercise improving the brain's cognitive performance.  Basic walking is good for your brain.

Plasticity of brain networks in a randomized intervention trial of exercise training in older adults.
Research has shown the human brain is organized into separable functional networks during rest and varied states of cognition, and that aging is associated with specific network dysfunctions. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine low-frequency (0.008 < f < 0.08 Hz) coherence of cognitively relevant and sensory brain networks in older adults who participated in a 1-year intervention trial, comparing the effects of aerobic and non-aerobic fitness training on brain function and cognition. Results showed that aerobic training improved the aging brain's resting functional efficiency in higher-level cognitive networks. One year of walking increased functional connectivity between aspects of the frontal, posterior, and temporal cortices within the Default Mode Network and a Frontal Executive Network, two brain networks central to brain dysfunction in aging. Length of training was also an important factor. Effects in favor of the walking group were observed only after 12 months of training, compared to non-significant trends after 6 months. A non-aerobic stretching and toning group also showed increased functional connectivity in the DMN after 6 months and in a Frontal Parietal Network after 12 months, possibly reflecting experience-dependent plasticity. Finally, we found that changes in functional connectivity were behaviorally relevant. Increased functional connectivity was associated with greater improvement in executive function. Therefore the study provides the first evidence for exercise-induced functional plasticity in large-scale brain systems in the aging brain, using functional connectivity techniques, and offers new insight into the role of aerobic fitness in attenuating age-related brain dysfunction.


Marc said...

In defense of the internet...
I love connecting with people that ordinarily I would have not been in touch with. IE; YOU!
Thanks to you and our "connection", I have a new book, The Shallows.

The more we learn from each other, the more we have the ability to learn about ourselves.

I do instantly understand the Shallows premise and i look forward to reading it.
In my own life...I KNOW that I have become more "scattered" due to my friggin blackberry.

Thanks Chris.


williebr said...

Your blog makes me smarter:-). Great stuff.

However, I see how the tool can easily be misused.

Also, I wonder what the results would be with an FMS-based corrective component to the program. I was talking to an OT a few weeks ago and she was telling me how the rotary stability pattern is essential for certain kinds of learning and that for kids if you fix that movement pattern allows them to learn certain things that they couldn't learn earlier. (I also had a conversation with Brett Jones about cerebal palsey and the people who took over Janda's work after his death, and the impact certain kinds of corrective exercise can have on them.)

I've done a ton of FMS screen and a lot of the people in the 55-80 fail the rotary stability screen because they've been sitting for too long.