exercise memory aging

Exercise activates memory neural networks in older adults

Study shows acute exercise has the ability to impact brain regions important to memory

April 25, 2019

Science Daily/University of Maryland

How quickly do we experience the benefits of exercise? A new University of Maryland study of healthy older adults shows that just one session of exercise increased activation in the brain circuits associated with memory -- including the hippocampus -- which shrinks with age and is the brain region attacked first in Alzheimer's disease.

 

"While it has been shown that regular exercise can increase the volume of the hippocampus, our study provides new information that acute exercise has the ability to impact this important brain region," said Dr. J. Carson Smith, an associate professor of kinesiology in the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the study's lead author.

 

The study is published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

 

Dr. Smith's research team measured the brain activity (using fMRI) of healthy participants ages 55-85 who were asked to perform a memory task that involves identifying famous names and non famous ones. The action of remembering famous names activates a neural network related to semantic memory, which is known to deteriorate over time with memory loss.

 

This test was conducted 30 minutes after a session of moderately intense exercise (70% of max effort) on an exercise bike and on a separate day after a period of rest. Participants' brain activation while correctly remembering names was significantly greater in four brain cortical regions (including the middle frontal gyrus, inferior temporal gryus, middle temporal gyrus, and fusiform gyrus) after exercise compared to after rest. The increased activation of the hippocampus was also seen on both sides of the brain.

 

"Just like a muscle adapts to repeated use, single sessions of exercise may flex cognitive neural networks in ways that promote adaptations over time and lend to increased network integrity and function and allow more efficient access to memories," Dr. Smith explained.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425104310.htm

Exercise may lessen fall risk for older adults with Alzheimer's

Study indicates exercise may decrease risk of falling for older adults who have Alzheimer's disease and mental health challenges

October 29, 2018

Science Daily/American Geriatrics Society

A research team decided to explore whether exercise could reduce the risk of falling among community-dwelling people with Alzheimer's Disease who also had neuropsychiatric symptoms.

 

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a brain disease that causes changes that kill brain cells. AD is a type of dementia, which causes memory loss and problems with thinking and making decisions. People with AD and other forms of dementia have difficulties performing the daily activities others might consider routine.

 

Dementia takes a toll on those who live with it -- and it also places a burden on caregivers. Along with problems connected to memory, language, and decision-making, dementia can cause neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, changes in mood, increased irritability, and changes in personality and behavior. People who have AD/dementia also have twice the risk for falls compared to people without dementia. About 60 percent of older adults with dementia fall each year.

 

Researchers suggest that having neuropsychiatric symptoms might predict whether an older person with AD/dementia is more likely to have a fall. We also know that exercise can reduce the number of falls in older adults with dementia. However, we don't know very much about how neuropsychiatric symptoms may increase the risk of falls, and we know even less about how exercise may reduce the risk of falls for people with dementia and neuropsychiatric symptoms. A research team decided to explore whether exercise could reduce the risk of falling among community-dwelling people with AD who also had neuropsychiatric symptoms.

 

To learn more, the researchers reviewed a study that investigated the effects of an exercise program for older adults with AD (the FINALEX trial). The study included a range of people living with different stages of AD/dementia and with neuropsychiatric symptoms. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

 

The original FINALEX study examined and compared older adults who had home- or group-based exercise training with people who didn't exercise but who received regular care. The researchers learned that the people who exercised had a lower risk for falls than those who didn't exercise. There was also a higher risk for falls among those who had lower scores on psychological tests and who didn't exercise.

 

This study revealed that people with AD/dementia and neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety have a higher risk for falls. Exercise can reduce the risk of falling for older adults with these symptoms. Further studies are needed to confirm these results.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029135235.htm

High-intensity exercise boosts memory, new research suggests

November 22, 2017

Science Daily/McMaster University

The health advantages of high-intensity exercise are widely known but new research points to another major benefit: better memory. The findings could have implications for an aging population which is grappling with the growing problem of catastrophic diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

 

The findings could have implications for an aging population which is grappling with the growing problem of catastrophic diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

 

Scientists have found that six weeks of intense exercise -- short bouts of interval training over the course of 20 minutes -- showed significant improvements in what is known as high-interference memory, which, for example, allows us to distinguish our car from another of the same make and model.

 

The study is published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

 

The findings are important because memory performance of the study participants, who were all healthy young adults, increased over a relatively short period of time, say researchers.

 

They also found that participants who experienced greater fitness gains also experienced greater increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth, function and survival of brain cells.

 

"Improvements in this type of memory from exercise might help to explain the previously established link between aerobic exercise and better academic performance," says Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and lead author of the study.

 

"At the other end of our lifespan, as we reach our senior years, we might expect to see even greater benefits in individuals with memory impairment brought on by conditions such as dementia," she says.

 

For the study, 95 participants completed six weeks of exercise training, combined exercise and cognitive training or no training (the control group which did neither and remained sedentary). Both the exercise and combined training groups improved performance on a high-interference memory task, while the control group did not.

 

Researchers measured changes in aerobic fitness, memory and neurotrophic factor, before and after the study protocol.

 

The results reveal a potential mechanism for how exercise and cognitive training may be changing the brain to support cognition, suggesting that the two work together through complementary pathways of the brain to improve high-interference memory.

 

Researchers have begun to examine older adults to determine if they will experience the same positive results with the combination of exercise and cognitive training.

 

"One hypothesis is that we will see greater benefits for older adults given that this type of memory declines with age," says Heisz. "However, the availability of neurotrophic factors also declines with age and this may mean that we do not get the synergistic effects."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171122103555.htm

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