Aerobic fitness and hormones predict recognition memory in young adults

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found further evidence that exercise may be beneficial for brain health and cognition. The findings, which are currently available online in Behavioural Brain Research, suggest that certain hormones, which are increased during exercise, may help improve memory.

Hormones called growth factors are thought to mediate the relationship between exercise and . The hippocampus, a region of the brain crucial for learning and memory, is thought to be uniquely affected by these hormones.

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), have been implicated in the link between exercise and hippocampal function. BDNF, for example, acts on the nervous system to help regulate communication between existing brain cells (neurons) and stimulate the growth and maturation of new hippocampal neurons and blood vessels.

In this study, the researchers recruited healthy young adults, in whom they measured blood hormone levels together with performance on a recognition memory task and . The researchers were thus able to correlate the blood hormone levels with aerobic fitness, and subsequently whether there was any effect on memory function.

According to the researchers, BDNF and aerobic fitness predicted memory in an interactive manner, suggesting that at low fitness BDNF levels negatively predicted expected memory accuracy. Conversely, at high fitness resting BDNF levels positively predicted recognition memory. There also was a strong association between IGF-1 and aerobic fitness; however there was no complementary link between IGF-1 and memory function.

"We will be continuing this line of research by testing if improves following an exercise training program in both young and geriatric adults, and by adding imaging techniques," explained Karin Schon, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM, who served as the study's principal investigator.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Molecule produced during exercise boosts brain health

Oct 10, 2013

A protein that is increased by endurance exercise has been isolated and given to non-exercising mice, in which it turned on genes that promote brain health and encourage the growth of new nerves involved in learning and memory, ...

Recommended for you

Know the brain, and its axons, by the clothes they wear

1 hour ago

(Medical Xpress)—It is widely know that the grey matter of the brain is grey because it is dense with cell bodies and capillaries. The white matter is almost entirely composed of lipid-based myelin, but ...

Turning off depression in the brain

22 hours ago

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Rapid whole-brain imaging with single cell resolution

22 hours ago

A major challenge of systems biology is understanding how phenomena at the cellular scale correlate with activity at the organism level. A concerted effort has been made especially in the brain, as scientists are aiming to ...

User comments