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Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory.

Abstract

The hippocampus shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia. Hippocampal and medial temporal lobe volumes are larger in higher-fit adults, and physical activity training increases hippocampal perfusion, but the extent to which aerobic exercise training can modify hippocampal volume in late adulthood remains unknown. Here we show, in a randomized controlled trial with 120 older adults, that aerobic exercise training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. Exercise training increased hippocampal volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 y. We also demonstrate that increased hippocampal volume is associated with greater serum levels of BDNF, a mediator of neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. Hippocampal volume declined in the control group, but higher preintervention fitness partially attenuated the decline, suggesting that fitness protects against volume loss. Caudate nucleus and thalamus volumes were unaffected by the intervention. These theoretically important findings indicate that aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.

    , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Source

    MeSH

    Aged
    Aging
    Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
    Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
    Exercise
    Hippocampus
    Humans
    Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    Memory
    Middle Aged
    Organ Size
    Space Perception

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Randomized Controlled Trial
    Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    21282661

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. AU - Erickson,Kirk I, AU - Voss,Michelle W, AU - Prakash,Ruchika Shaurya, AU - Basak,Chandramallika, AU - Szabo,Amanda, AU - Chaddock,Laura, AU - Kim,Jennifer S, AU - Heo,Susie, AU - Alves,Heloisa, AU - White,Siobhan M, AU - Wojcicki,Thomas R, AU - Mailey,Emily, AU - Vieira,Victoria J, AU - Martin,Stephen A, AU - Pence,Brandt D, AU - Woods,Jeffrey A, AU - McAuley,Edward, AU - Kramer,Arthur F, Y1 - 2011/01/31/ PY - 2011/2/2/entrez PY - 2011/2/2/pubmed PY - 2011/4/16/medline SP - 3017 EP - 22 JF - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America JO - Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. VL - 108 IS - 7 N2 - The hippocampus shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia. Hippocampal and medial temporal lobe volumes are larger in higher-fit adults, and physical activity training increases hippocampal perfusion, but the extent to which aerobic exercise training can modify hippocampal volume in late adulthood remains unknown. Here we show, in a randomized controlled trial with 120 older adults, that aerobic exercise training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. Exercise training increased hippocampal volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 y. We also demonstrate that increased hippocampal volume is associated with greater serum levels of BDNF, a mediator of neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. Hippocampal volume declined in the control group, but higher preintervention fitness partially attenuated the decline, suggesting that fitness protects against volume loss. Caudate nucleus and thalamus volumes were unaffected by the intervention. These theoretically important findings indicate that aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function. SN - 1091-6490 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/21282661/full_citation L2 - http://www.pnas.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=21282661 ER -