Sport keeps the brain young & adaptable

Sport keeps the brain young & adaptable



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Sport as a fountain of youth for the brain

The positive effect of sport on physical health has been scientifically proven in many cases. A current study by researchers at the University of Göttingen has now been able to show that physical exercise also seems to make the brain fitter. In mice, the neuronal connections in the visual cortex were shown to be more adaptable under increased physical activity, which suggests that sport can "extend the period of youthful adaptability in the brain to adulthood", according to the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. The scientists around the study leader Prof. Dr. Siegrid Löwel published in the specialist journal "The Journal of Neuroscience".

According to the University of Göttingen, sport has “enormous advantages for mental health: it raises the mood, increases stress resistance, improves memory and slows down the decline in cognitive abilities with age.” Sport is also the current thing for the neuronal connections in the brain According to study results, apparently a kind of fountain of youth - at least in mice. According to the researchers in Göttingen, the adaptability of their brains was retained significantly longer during voluntary exercise and it was even possible to restore adaptability that had already been lost.

Brain adaptable for longer periods of movement When raising mice in so-called standard cages, the daily movement of rodents is extremely restricted, which leads to an increasing decrease in a certain form of adaptability of neuronal circuits in the visual cortex (plasticity) with age, reports the University of Göttingen. This ability to adapt was no longer demonstrable in mice from an age of more than 110 days. "However, if the mice had an impeller in their cage, they showed this type of plasticity even up to an age of at least 242 days," explains Prof. Siegrid Löwel the study results. “Interestingly, the very cortex plasticity showed in the adults Wheel-Mice have the same characteristics as in young mice, “Löwel continues.

Restoring neuronal adaptability According to the researchers, physical movement surprisingly also resulted in a restoration of the adolescent adaptability of the brain in adult mice. And this "at an age when the plasticity of the cortex is usually no longer available," said the University of Göttingen. The study's co-author, Dr. Franziska Greifzu emphasized that just a few days of voluntary training on the impeller were enough to enable the plastic changes in the brain again. "This shows that" it is never too late to benefit from physical activity, "said the Göttingen-based researcher further.

Physical activity overall good for health The importance of physical activity for health is also clear from a recent study by the University of Cambridge, which found that lack of exercise is more deadly than obesity. Other studies, which are devoted, for example, to the effects of sport on the cardiovascular system or cognitive performance, show that physical exercise has many positive effects on health. However, many aspects remain unclear here. The current study by the Göttingen researchers also raises the question of whether the same changes could be observed in humans as in rodents. Further investigations are required here, in which the development of the adaptability of human brains during exercise is checked. (fp)

Photo credit: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de

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