Regular Aerobic Exercise for a Faster Brain

Posted on August 21, 2007  Comments (2)

Lobes of Steel

Scientists have suspected for decades that exercise, particularly regular aerobic exercise, can affect the brain. But they could only speculate as to how. Now an expanding body of research shows that exercise can improve the performance of the brain by boosting memory and cognitive processing speed. Exercise can, in fact, create a stronger, faster brain.

But something else happened as a result of all those workouts: blood flowed at a much higher volume to a part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis. Functional M.R.I.’s showed that a portion of each person’s hippocampus received almost twice the blood volume as it did before. Scientists suspect that the blood pumping into that part of the brain was helping to produce fresh neurons.

The hippocampus plays a large role in how mammals create and process memories; it also plays a role in cognition. If your hippocampus is damaged, you most likely have trouble learning facts and forming new memories. Age plays a factor, too. As you get older, your brain gets smaller, and one of the areas most prone to this shrinkage is the hippocampus. (This can start depressingly early, in your 30’s.) Many neurologists believe that the loss of neurons in the hippocampus may be a primary cause of the cognitive decay associated with aging.

Related: Feed your Newborn NeuronsCan Brain Exercises Prevent Mental Decline?Excercize and LearningNo Sleep, No New Brain Cells

2 Responses to “Regular Aerobic Exercise for a Faster Brain”

  1. CuriousCat: The Brain is Wired to Mull Over Decisions
    November 15th, 2007 @ 8:59 am

    “New studies have identified a specific neural circuit in the brains of monkeys that is activated when they postpone acting on a decision. The circuit is thought to keep potential choices brewing in memory even after a decision has already been made…”

  2. Erica
    January 10th, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

    I’ve heard that exercise helps memory…but I’ve never read this particular reason. Thanks for the info!

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