Could Running When Young Help Protect the Aging Brain?
Aug 14, 2017
Author: Heidi Singer
University of Toronto researchers have discovered that rats who run a great deal in youth have better memories in old age, a finding that could shed light on why exercise – both physical and cognitive – seems to protect against Alzheimer’s disease in people.
“We found that for these rats, exercise was a very strong stimulus for the formation of new neurons in the adult brain, or neurogenesis,” says Professor Martin Wojtowicz, a neuroscience researcher in the Department of Physiology. “Most of our cells are formed in the fetus. The running benefit occurred with a small group of adult-born cells. The more we understand why an intervention works on memory, whether it’s crossword puzzles, exercise or learning a language, the closer we get to an effective treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
Wojtowicz published his findings August 14 in the journal eNeuro, along with postdoctoral fellows Olga Shevtsova and Christina Merkely, Gordon Winocur, a professor of geriatric psychiatry at U of T, and colleague Yao-Fang Tan.
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