Exercise, Brain, and Cognition Across the Lifespan

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Dept. of Psychology, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
Journal of Applied Physiology (Impact Factor: 3.43). 04/2011; 111(5):1505-13. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00210.2011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This is a brief review of current evidence for the relationships between physical activity and exercise and the brain and cognition throughout the life span in non-pathological populations. We focus on the effects of both aerobic and resistance training and provide a brief overview of potential neurobiological mechanisms derived from non-human animal models. Whereas research has focused primarily on the benefits of aerobic exercise in youth and young adult populations, there is growing evidence that both aerobic and resistance training are important for maintaining cognitive and brain health in old age. Finally, in these contexts, we point out gaps in the literature and future directions that will help advance the field of exercise neuroscience, including more studies that explicitly examine the effect of exercise type and intensity on cognition, the brain, and clinically significant outcomes. There is also a need for human neuroimaging studies to adopt a more unified multi-modal framework and for greater interaction between human and animal models of exercise effects on brain and cognition across the life span.

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Available from: Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Jun 26, 2015
    • "Importantly, there are no published studies examining the effects of aerobic exercise training on inhibitory control, using a modified flanker paradigm in persons with MS. Based on the similar associations between aerobic fitness and inhibitory control in the MS and control samples, future studies should carefully examine exercise training effects on inhibitory control in adults of the general population (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003; Voss et al., 2011) that might be applicable for designing similar interventions in persons with MS. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive impairment is highly prevalent, disabling, and poorly managed in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). Aerobic fitness might be a target of exercise training interventions for improving cognition in this population. It is unknown if the well-established pattern of associations between higher aerobic fitness and better inhibitory control in the general population exists among persons with MS. The current cross-sectional study examined the effects of aerobic fitness (VO2peak) on inhibitory control, using a modified flanker task, in 28 persons with MS and 28 healthy controls matched by age, sex, and body mass index. This involved performing bivariate correlations and hierarchical linear regression analyses on measures of aerobic fitness and inhibitory control. Persons with MS demonstrated lower VO2peak (d = -0.45), slower (d = 0.62-0.84), and less accurate (d = -0.60 to 0.71) performance on the flanker task than controls. VO2peak was similarly associated with reaction time measures of inhibitory control in the MS and control samples (ρ = -0.40 to 0.54). VO2peak (p < .01), but not group (p ≥ .08) (MS vs. control), predicted reaction time on the flanker task, irrespective of age, sex, and education. This supports the development of aerobic exercise interventions for improving reaction time on tasks of inhibitory control in persons with MS, much like what has been successfully undertaken in the general population. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
    Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology 04/2015; 30(4). DOI:10.1093/arclin/acv022 · 1.92 Impact Factor
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    • "In the literature on the influence of exercise on neuroplastic changes in aging, research has suggested that not only does exercise induce the growth of nerve cells and blood vessels, it appears to increase production of important chemicals in the brain, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which may be important in the survival and repair of neural tissue (e.g., Voss et al., 2011). Similarly, in the domain of cognitive training, of particular interest are investigations demonstrating transfer effects from the trained domain to other aspects of cognition (e.g., Lustig et al., 2009; Noack et al., 2009) and associated underlying neural changes (e.g., Jones et al., 2006; Kelly & Garavan, 2005; Klingberg, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Normal aging is an inevitable race between increasing knowledge and decreasing cognitive capacity. Crucial to understanding and promoting successful aging is determining which of these factors dominates for particular neurocognitive functions. Here, we focus on the human capacity for language, for which healthy older adults are simultaneously advantaged and disadvantaged. In recent years, a more hopeful view of cognitive aging has emerged from work suggesting that age-related declines in executive control functions are buffered by life-long bilingualism. In this paper, we selectively review what is currently known and unknown about bilingualism, executive control, and aging. Our ultimate goal is to advance the views that these issues should be reframed as a specific instance of neuroplasticity more generally and, in particular, that researchers should embrace the individual variability among bilinguals by adopting experimental and statistical approaches that respect the complexity of the questions addressed. In what follows, we set out the theoretical assumptions and empirical support of the bilingual advantages perspective, review what we know about language, cognitive control, and aging generally, and then highlight several of the relatively few studies that have investigated bilingual language processing in older adults, either on their own or in comparison with monolingual older adults. We conclude with several recommendations for how the field ought to proceed to achieve a more multifactorial view of bilingualism that emphasizes the notion of neuroplasticity over that of simple bilingual versus monolingual group comparisons.
    Applied Psycholinguistics 09/2014; 35(5):857-894. DOI:10.1017/S0142716414000174 · 1.39 Impact Factor
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    • "Sibley and Beilock (2007), for example, found that working memory was influenced by acute exercise only in individuals with the lowest initial working memory performance. It has been proposed that there may be little room for behavioral improvement in healthy, young adults as cognitive health often peaks during this period (Voss, Nagamatsu, et al., 2011). This could help explain why chronic exercise interventions in young adults often result in an overall minimal or mixed effect on cognition. "
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    ABSTRACT: It is generally understood that regular moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) promotes good health from head to toe. Evidence also supports the notion that too much sitting can increase all-cause mortality and risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Moreover, there is evidence that daily MVPA may not offset negative effects of sedentary behavior on systemic risk factors. We extend the discussion to brain structure and function and argue that while MVPA is recognized as a protective behavior against age-related dementia, sedentary behavior may also be an important contributor to brain health and even counteract the benefits of MVPA due to overlapping or interacting mechanistic pathways. Thus, the goals of this review are (1) to outline evidence linking both PA and sedentary behavior to neurobiological systems that are known to influence behavioral outcomes such as cognitive aging and (2) to propose productive areas of future research.
    Mental Health and Physical Activity 03/2014; 7(1). DOI:10.1016/j.mhpa.2014.01.001
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