Physical activity promotes changes in the brain that may protect high-risk individuals against cognitive decline, including development of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study done at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).
J. Carson Smith, an assistant professor of health sciences, included in the study both people who carry a high-risk gene for Alzheimer's disease, and other healthy older adults without the gene.
"Our study suggests that if you are at genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease, the benefits of exercise to your brain function might be even greater than for those who do not have that genetic risk," says Smith.
While evidence already shows that physical activity is associated with maintenance of cognitive function across a life span, most of this research has been done with healthy people, without any consideration of their level of risk for Alzheimer's, says Smith.
A team of researchers compared brain activation during memory processing in four separate groups of healthy 65- to 85-years-olds. The level of risk was defined by whether an individual carried the apolipoprotein E-epsilon4 (APOE–ϵ4) allele. Physical activity status was defined by how much and how often the participants reported physical activity (PA). The study divided subjects into Low Risk/Low PA, Low Risk/High PA, High Risk/Low PA and High Risk/High PA.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure brain activation of participants while they performed a mental task involving discriminating among famous people. This test is very useful, says Smith, because it engages a wide network called the semantic memory system, with activation occurring in 15 different functional regions of the brain.
"When a person thinks about people – for example, Frank Sinatra or Lady Gaga – that involves several lobes of the brain," explains Smith.
In the study groups of those carrying the gene, individuals who exercised showed greater brain activity in memory-related regions than those who were sedentary.
Perhaps even more intriguing, physically active people with the gene had greater brain activity than those who were physically active but not gene carriers.
There are many physiological reasons why this could be happening, Smith says. "For example, people with this increased activation might be compensating for some underlying neurological event that is involved in cognitive decline.". "Using more areas of their brain may serve as a protective function, even in the face of disease processes."
The study's collaborating institutions include the Cleveland Clinic, Marquette University, Wayne State University and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging.
The study will be published in Vol. 54 (January 2011) of the journal NeuroImage, but is now available online.
Smith's current research builds on this study. He and his team are conducting a new study testing the before-and-after effects of a structured exercise program on brain function. The study includes patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's disease, as well as a healthy control group.
For more information on this ongoing study, visit http://www.exerciseforbrainhealth.com/
J. Carson Smith | EurekAlert!
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences