Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Nov 9;96(23):13427-31
Running enhances neurogenesis, learning, and long-term potentiation in mice.
van Praag H, Christie BR, Sejnowski TJ, Gage FH. Laboratory of Genetics, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
Running increases neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, a brain structure that is important for memory function. Consequently, spatial learning and long-term potentiation (LTP) were tested in groups of mice housed either with a running wheel (runners) or under standard conditions (controls). Mice were injected with bromodeoxyuridine to label dividing cells and trained in the Morris water maze. LTP was studied in the dentate gyrus and area CA1 in hippocampal slices from these mice. Running improved water maze performance, increased bromodeoxyuridine-positive cell numbers, and selectively enhanced dentate gyrus LTP. Our results indicate that physical activity can regulate hippocampal neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and learning.
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New neurons in the adult brain: The role of sleep and consequences of sleep loss
Peter Meerloa,*, Ralph E. Mistlbergerb, Barry L. Jacobs, H. Craig Hellerd, Dennis McGinty
On Autism & Exercise
By Daniel Hawthorne
This past week, yet another reason became apparent to me: that of the connection between physical activity and the development of new nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain. A recent study at the Salk Institute involving four groups of mice confirmed just such a connection. The mice in group one were sedentary, being the control group. The mice in group two had regularly scheduled times for swimming; those in group three could swim at anytime. Group four had a running wheel; thus, the mice there were allowed to run freely at any time. At the end of the twelve days, it was not surprising that mental development occurred in all four groups; what was surprising, though, was the amount of difference found among the four. Group four differed by twice the number of new cells gained in group one. Keep in mind that this was only for twelve days, not a real significant amount of time in the total lifespan of a mouse, I would think, anyway. Groups two and three also fared much better than the control group. (1)
Other studies have shown that the human brain is plastic as well.