Genetic pre-disposition toward exercise and mental development may be linked

University of Missouri researchers have previously shown that a genetic pre-disposition to be more or less motivated to exercise exists. In a new study, Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, has found a potential link between the genetic pre-disposition for high levels of exercise motivation and the speed at which mental maturation occurs.

For his study, Booth selectively bred rats that exhibited traits of either extreme activity or extreme laziness. Booth then put the rats in cages with running wheels and measured how much each rat willingly ran on their wheels during a six-day period. He then bred the top 26 runners with each other and bred the 26 rats that ran the least with each other. They repeated this process through 10 generations and found that the line of running rats chose to run 10 times more than the line of "lazy" rats.

Booth studied the brains of the rats and found much higher levels of neural maturation in the brains of the active rats than in the brains of the lazy rats.

"We looked at the part of the known as the 'grand central station,' or the hub where the brain is constantly sending and receiving signals," Booth said. "We found a big difference between the amount of molecules present in the brains of active rats compared to the brains of lazy rats. This suggests that the active rats were experiencing faster development of neural pathways than the lazy rats."

Booth says these findings may suggest a link between the genes responsible for exercise motivation and the genes responsible for mental development. He also says this research hints that exercising at a young age could help develop more neural pathways for motivation to be physically active.

"This study illustrates a potentially important link between exercise and the development of these ," Booth said. "Ultimately, this could show the benefits of for in humans, especially young children with constantly growing brains."

More information: Booth's study, "Nucleus accumbens neuronal maturation differences in young rats bred for low versus high voluntary running behavior," was published in the Journal of Physiology.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Blood test may shed new light on Fragile X related disorders

date Mar 26, 2015

A blood test may shed new light on Fragile X syndrome related disorders in women, according to a new study published in the March 25, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurol ...

Recycling histones through transcription

date Mar 26, 2015

Cells reuse a part of the histones which are used to pack DNA, according to a current study by Karolinska Institutet. The study, which is published in the journal Genome Research, was conducted on yeast cells, but it is ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.