Exercise is good for the brain

Physical activity is good for the body but it also seems to be good for…

Exercise is good for the brain

Physical activity is good for the body but it also seems to be good for the brain.

Neuroscientists from the University of Geneva conducted a study in which they evaluated memory performance after exercise and discovered that an intensive physical exercise session as short as 15 minutes on a bicycle improves memory, including the acquisition of new motor skills.

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The research team recruited a group of 15 young and healthy men to take a memory test under three different conditions – after 30 minutes of moderate cycling, after 15 minutes of intensive cycling, or after a period of rest – and they found that performance was better after the intensive stint.

“The exercise was as follows: a screen showed four points placed next to each other. Each time one of the dots briefly changed into a star, the participant had to press the corresponding button as quickly as possible,” explained researcher Blanca Marin Bosch. “It followed a predefined and repeated sequence in order to precisely evaluate how movements were learnt. This is very similar to what we do when, for example, we learn to type on a keyboard as quickly as possible. After an intensive sports session, the performance was much better.”

The team also found that the faster the participants were exercising, the more they activated their hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain, and the caudate nucleus, a structure involved in motor processes. The level of endocannabinoids, small molecules that produce a feeling of wellbeing during physical exertion, had a similar relationship.

This study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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