Thinning in brain regions important for memory linked to sedentary habits

April 12, 2018, University of California, Los Angeles
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory, according to a preliminary study by UCLA researchers of middle-aged and older adults.

Studies show that too much sitting, like smoking, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and . Researchers at UCLA wanted to see how sedentary behavior influences brain health, especially regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation.

UCLA researchers recruited 35 people ages 45 to 75 and asked about their and the average number of hours per day they spent sitting over the previous week. Each person had a high-resolution MRI scan, which provides a detailed look at the medial temporal lobe, or MTL, a brain region involved in the formation of new memories.

The researchers found that sedentary behavior is a significant predictor of thinning of the MTL and that , even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods.

This study does not prove that too much sitting causes thinner brain structures, but instead that more hours spent sitting are associated with thinner regions, researchers said. In addition, the researchers focused on the hours spent sitting, but did not ask participants if they took breaks during this time.

The researchers next hope to follow a group of people for a longer duration to determine if sitting causes the thinning and what role gender, race, and weight might play in brain health related to sitting.

MTL thinning can be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and . Reducing may be a possible target for interventions designed to improve in people at risk for Alzheimer's disease, researchers said.

The study appears in the April 12 issue of PLOS ONE.

Explore further: Middle-aged found to be as sedentary as pensioners

Related Stories

Middle-aged found to be as sedentary as pensioners

June 27, 2017
Most middle-aged office workers now spend as much time sitting down as older pensioners, according to a report.

Sitting and physical inactivity may increase risk of urinary tract symptoms

March 21, 2018
Prolonged sitting time and low physical activity levels were linked with the development of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in a BJU International study of 69,795 middle-aged Korean men.

Sedentary behavior increases risk of death for frail, inactive adults

August 21, 2017
Sedentary time, for example, time spent sitting, increases the risk of death for middle-aged and older people who are frail and inactive, but does not appear to increase the risk for nonfrail people who are inactive, according ...

Study fails to find strong link between sitting and weight gain

December 6, 2017
Sitting is bad for you, but it is unlikely to make you fat, a University of Otago study has found.

Long sitting periods may be just as harmful as daily total

September 11, 2017
A new study finds that it isn't just the amount of time spent sitting, but also the way in which sitting time is accumulated during the day, that can affect risk of early death.

For adults 60 and older, just 4,000 steps a day improve attention and mental skills

December 20, 2017
Walking more than 4,000 steps a day can improve attention and mental skills in adults 60 and older, according to UCLA research published December 12 in a preprint edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Recommended for you

Animal study connects fear behavior, rhythmic breathing, brain smell center

April 20, 2018
"Take a deep breath" is the mantra of every anxiety-reducing advice list ever written. And for good reason. There's increasing physiological evidence connecting breathing patterns with the brain regions that control mood ...

Mechanism behind neuron death in motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia discovered

April 20, 2018
Scientists have identified the molecular mechanism that leads to the death of neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or motor neurone disease) and a common form of frontotemporal dementia.

When there's an audience, people's performance improves

April 20, 2018
Often, people think performing in front of others will make them mess up, but a new study led by a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist found the opposite: being watched makes people do better.

Signaling between neuron types found to instigate morphological changes during early neocortex development

April 20, 2018
A team of researchers from several institutions in Japan has found that developing neocortex neurons in mammals undergo a morphological transition from a multipolar shape to a bipolar shape due at least partially to signaling ...

MRI technique detects spinal cord changes in MS patients

April 20, 2018
A Vanderbilt University Medical Center-led research team has shown that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect changes in resting-state spinal cord function in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Gene variant increases empathy-driven fear in mice

April 20, 2018
Researchers at the Center for Cognition and Sociality, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), have just published as study in Neuron reporting a genetic variant that controls and increases empathy-driven fear in mice. ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Robin_Whittle
not rated yet Apr 12, 2018
The open-access article is at:

http://journals.p....0195549

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.