Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Good aerobic capacity promotes learning

Date:
February 13, 2012
Source:
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland)
Summary:
Aerobic fitness has a favorable effect on cognitive functions. For example, physically active elderly people are less prone to aging-related cognitive decline than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. An increase in physical activity raises both aerobic capacity and learning ability in both humans and animals. However, it is not known whether it is the aerobic capacity or the pleasure and enrichment of physical activity that promotes cognitive functions.

Aerobic fitness has a favorable effect on cognitive functions. For example, physically active elderly people are less prone to aging-related cognitive decline than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. An increase in physical activity raises both aerobic capacity and learning ability in both humans and animals. However, it is not known whether it is the aerobic capacity or the pleasure and enrichment of physical activity that promotes cognitive functions.

A study conducted by research groups at the University of Jyväskylä shows that aerobic fitness -- not physical activity as such -- promotes cognitive abilities.

- In this study, we used rat strains raised at the University of Michigan. They had been selectively bred over 23 generations for their endurance running capacity. Due to this breeding, there were natural-born long-distance runners and very poor runners. Results from a test that is a counterpart to the human maximal endurance test indicate that the difference between these strains was 500%, says Heikki Kainulainen, Professor of Exercise Physiology.

- Rats were trained in a discrimination learning test that measures flexible cognition. They were first taught to fetch a food reward in the presence of one tone and to ignore the other one. After learning this rule, the stimulus assignment was reversed and they were required to abandon the old rule and learn a new one, describes Dr. Jan Wikgren, Senior Researcher at the Department of Psychology.

It was found that rats with intrinsically high aerobic capacity clearly outperformed those with intrinsically low aerobic capacity. It must be emphasized that the animals were not given any physical exercise before the learning test. Thus, the results suggest that it is the aerobic capacity and not physical activity alone that is related to flexible cognition.

The results gave rise to many questions. Probably the most crucial seeks to determine the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate the effect of aerobic capacity on brain function.

- In future experiments we aim at studying the possible differences between these strains from the molecular to neurophysiological levels of analysis. Ultimately, we hope to investigate plausible exercise interventions that protect the brain from the detrimental effects of aging, Wikgren and Kainulainen explain. At least it is safe to say that physical activity is good for your brain at any age.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jan Wikgren, Georgios G. Mertikas, Pekka Raussi, Riina Tirkkonen, Laura Äyräväinen, Markku Pelto-Huikko, Lauren G. Koch, Steven L. Britton, Heikki Kainulainen. Selective breeding for endurance running capacity affects cognitive but not motor learning in rats. Physiology & Behavior, 2012; 106 (2): 95 DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.01.011

Cite This Page:

Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). "Good aerobic capacity promotes learning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213084208.htm>.
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). (2012, February 13). Good aerobic capacity promotes learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213084208.htm
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland). "Good aerobic capacity promotes learning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213084208.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) — A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins