Special Issue "Exercise and Brain Function"

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A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 March 2015)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Quincy J. Almeida

Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research & Rehabilitation Centre, Faculty of Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +1 519 884 0710
Fax: +1 519 747 4594
Interests: applied neuroscience; brain function; basal ganglia; Parkinson’s disease; neurological wellness; neurodegeneration; cognitive function; motor control; gait; balance

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Evidence for the beneficial effects of exercise is abundant. Risk associated with many diseases can be significantly reduced with exercise, however, the influence of exercise on brain function has been a highly debated topic. This is especially the case when it pertains to populations who have suffered from brain damage or neurodegeneration. Most of us would agree that increasing physical activity will offer some health benefits for the secondary ailments that accompany neurological illnesses, but when the question is whether or not clinical motor or cognitive symptoms can be ameliorated, the answer is not quite so clear.

An equally important question is whether certain targeted exercises should have potential for improving brain function. For example, should aerobic exercise necessarily improve oxygen delivery to an oxygen-deprived brain, or might it be better to attempt to improve neuromuscular integration through resistance exercises? Or, is there a true benefit to cognitive function through mental exercise, and could this be extended to dementia populations.

In addition, many strategies and sensory tricks have been suggested to bypass faulty neurological pathways, although it is important to consider the true underlying mechanism of these benefits.
The current special issue is intended to collect a selected number of articles that demonstrate how exercise might influence brain function. And further to investigate how neurological populations might benefit from specific and targeted exercise.

Dr. Quincy J. Almeida
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • exercise
  • brain
  • neuroplasticity
  • cognitive function
  • motor control
  • physical activity

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Health Benefits and Challenges of Exercise Training in Persons Living with Schizophrenia: A Pilot Study
Brain Sci. 2013, 3(2), 821-848; doi:10.3390/brainsci3020821
Received: 11 April 2013 / Revised: 3 May 2013 / Accepted: 7 May 2013 / Published: 24 May 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (463 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: In addition to the hallmark cognitive and functional impairments mounting evidence indicates that schizophrenia is also associated with an increased risk for the development of secondary complications, in particular cardio-metabolic disease. This is thought to be the result of various factors including
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Background: In addition to the hallmark cognitive and functional impairments mounting evidence indicates that schizophrenia is also associated with an increased risk for the development of secondary complications, in particular cardio-metabolic disease. This is thought to be the result of various factors including physical inactivity and the metabolic side effects of psychotropic medications. Therefore, non-pharmacological approaches to improving brain health, physical health, and overall well-being have been promoted increasingly. Methods: We report on the health-related physical fitness (body composition, blood pressure, heart rate, and aerobic fitness) and lipid profile of persons living with schizophrenia and effective means to address the challenges of exercise training in this population. Results: There was a markedly increased risk for cardio-metabolic disease in 13 persons living with schizophrenia (Age = 31 ± 7 years) including low aerobic fitness (76% ± 34% of predicted), reduced HDL (60% of cohort), elevated resting heart rate (80% of cohort), hypertension (40% of cohort), overweight and obesity (69% of cohort), and abdominal obesity (54% of cohort). Individualized exercise prescription (3 times/week) was well tolerated, with no incidence of adverse exercise-related events. The exercise adherence rate was 81% ± 21% (Range 48%–100%), and 69% of the participants were able to complete the entire exercise training program. Exercise training resulted in clinically important changes in physical activity, aerobic fitness, exercise tolerance, blood pressure, and body composition. Conclusion: Persons living with schizophrenia appear to be at an increased risk for cardio-metabolic disease. An individualized exercise program has shown early promise for the treatment of schizophrenia and the various cognitive, functional, and physiological impairments that ultimately affect health and well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessArticle Cortical Activity during a Highly-Trained Resistance Exercise Movement Emphasizing Force, Power or Volume
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 649-666; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040649
Received: 13 September 2012 / Revised: 10 October 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 20 November 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (645 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cortical activity is thought to reflect the biomechanical properties of movement (e.g., force or velocity of movement), but fatigue and movement familiarity are important factors that require additional consideration in electrophysiological research. The purpose of this within-group quantitative electroencephalogram (EEG) investigation was to
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Cortical activity is thought to reflect the biomechanical properties of movement (e.g., force or velocity of movement), but fatigue and movement familiarity are important factors that require additional consideration in electrophysiological research. The purpose of this within-group quantitative electroencephalogram (EEG) investigation was to examine changes in cortical activity amplitude and location during four resistance exercise movement protocols emphasizing rate (PWR), magnitude (FOR), or volume (VOL) of force production, while accounting for movement familiarity and fatigue. EEG signals were recorded during each complete repetition and were then grouped by functional region, processed to eliminate artifacts, and averaged to compare overall differences in the magnitude and location of cortical activity between protocols over the course of six sets. Biomechanical, biochemical, and exertional data were collected to contextualize electrophysiological data. The most fatiguing protocols were accompanied by the greatest increases in cortical activity. Furthermore, despite non-incremental loading and lower force levels, VOL displayed the largest increases in cortical activity over time and greatest motor and sensory activity overall. Our findings suggest that cortical activity is strongly related to aspects of fatigue during a high intensity resistance exercise movement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessArticle Aging, Aerobic Activity and Interhemispheric Communication
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 634-648; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040634
Received: 27 September 2012 / Revised: 2 November 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 16 November 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (291 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Recent studies have shown that during unimanual motor tasks, aging adults show bilateral recruitment of primary motor cortex (M1), while younger adults show a suppression of the ipsilateral motor cortex. Additional work has indicated that increased bilateral M1 recruitment in older adults may
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Recent studies have shown that during unimanual motor tasks, aging adults show bilateral recruitment of primary motor cortex (M1), while younger adults show a suppression of the ipsilateral motor cortex. Additional work has indicated that increased bilateral M1 recruitment in older adults may be deleterious when performing some motor tasks. However, higher levels of physical fitness are associated with improved dexterity and fitness may mitigate the loss of both inhibitory and excitatory communication in aging adults. The goal of this study was to assess dexterity and interhemispheric motor communication in physically fit and sedentary middle-age (40–60 years) right handed participants using tests of hand deftness and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). To behaviorally assess the influence of interhemispheric communication on motor performance, participants also perform the coin rotation deftness task while maintaining pinch force with the opposite hand (bimanual condition). We correlated these behavioral measures with the ipsilateral silent period using TMS to assess interhemispheric inhibition. Our results show that the middle-aged adults who were physically fit had better dexterity of their right hand (finger tapping and peg-board). When performing the coin rotation task the fit group had no between hand differences, but the sedentary group’s left hand performance was inferior to the their right hand. We found that better dexterity correlated with ipsilateral silent period duration (greater inhibition) thereby supporting the postulate that fitness improves interhemispheric motor communication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessArticle Forced Exercise Enhances Functional Recovery after Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 483-503; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040483
Received: 6 August 2012 / Revised: 3 September 2012 / Accepted: 3 October 2012 / Published: 16 October 2012
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Abstract
Caveolin is the principal protein of caveolae and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral ischemia. To investigate whether changed expression of caveolins has a pivotal role in focal cerebral ischemia, we induced middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo)-reperfusion and examined expression of
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Caveolin is the principal protein of caveolae and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral ischemia. To investigate whether changed expression of caveolins has a pivotal role in focal cerebral ischemia, we induced middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo)-reperfusion and examined expression of caveolins, inflammatory activation markers, and mediators of autophagic cell death. We also treated MCAo rats with forced exercise to determine its effects on neurological outcome. Particularly, spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were used to compare the effects of hypertension on focal cerebral ischemia. All MCAo groups showed neurological deficiencies, motor dysfunction, and disruption of balancing ability; however, these pathological changes were more severe in SHR than WKY rats. Expression of caveolins was decreased in MCAo brain tissue, whereas the levels of iNOS and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) increased. Additionally, LC3-II and beclin-1 levels were elevated in the MCAo groups. Forced exercise attenuated both molecular and behavioral changes in MCAo animals, but SHR rats showed delayed functional recovery and residual molecular changes when compared to WKY rats. These results suggest that forced exercise may be beneficial for promoting functional recovery following cerebral ischemia through caveolin-dependent mechanisms or interactions between caveolins and these signaling molecules in ischemic brain regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessArticle Long-Term Effects of Physical Exercise on Verbal Learning and Memory in Middle-Aged Adults: Results of a One-Year Follow-Up Study
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(3), 332-346; doi:10.3390/brainsci2030332
Received: 21 May 2012 / Revised: 21 July 2012 / Accepted: 20 August 2012 / Published: 27 August 2012
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (444 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A few months of physical exercise have been shown to increase cognition and to modulate brain functions in previously sedentary, mainly older adults. However, whether the preservation of newly gained cognitive capacities requires an active maintenance of the achieved fitness level during the
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A few months of physical exercise have been shown to increase cognition and to modulate brain functions in previously sedentary, mainly older adults. However, whether the preservation of newly gained cognitive capacities requires an active maintenance of the achieved fitness level during the intervention is not yet known. The aim of the present study was to test whether cardiovascular fitness one year after an exercise intervention was linked to cognitive variables. Twenty-five healthy participants (42–57 years of age) took part in a follow-up assessment one year after the end of a supervised exercise intervention. Measurements included a cardiovascular fitness test, psychometric tests of verbal learning and memory and selective attention as well as questionnaires assessing physical activity and self-efficacy beliefs. Recognition scores of participants with higher cardiovascular fitness at follow-up did not change significantly during the follow-up period; however, the scores of participants with lower cardiovascular fitness decreased. One year after the end of the physical training intervention, previously sedentary participants spent more hours exercising than prior to the intervention. The time participants spent exercising correlated with their self-efficacy beliefs. These results demonstrate a direct link between verbal learning and cardiovascular fitness and show that positive effects of physical interventions on learning and memory do need an active maintenance of cardiovascular fitness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Nonmechanical Roles of Dystrophin and Associated Proteins in Exercise, Neuromuscular Junctions, and Brains
Brain Sci. 2015, 5(3), 275-298; doi:10.3390/brainsci5030275
Received: 12 May 2015 / Revised: 29 June 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 29 July 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (604 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) is an important structural unit in skeletal muscle that connects the cytoskeleton (f-actin) of a muscle fiber to the extracellular matrix (ECM). Several muscular dystrophies, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy, congenital muscular dystrophies (dystroglycanopathies), and limb-girdle muscular
[...] Read more.
Dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) is an important structural unit in skeletal muscle that connects the cytoskeleton (f-actin) of a muscle fiber to the extracellular matrix (ECM). Several muscular dystrophies, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy, congenital muscular dystrophies (dystroglycanopathies), and limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (sarcoglycanopathies), are caused by mutations in the different DGC components. Although many early studies indicated DGC plays a crucial mechanical role in maintaining the structural integrity of skeletal muscle, recent studies identified novel roles of DGC. Beyond a mechanical role, these DGC members play important signaling roles and act as a scaffold for various signaling pathways. For example, neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), which is localized at the muscle membrane by DGC members (dystrophin and syntrophins), plays an important role in the regulation of the blood flow during exercise. DGC also plays important roles at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and in the brain. In this review, we will focus on recently identified roles of DGC particularly in exercise and the brain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview Promoting Motor Function by Exercising the Brain
Brain Sci. 2013, 3(1), 101-122; doi:10.3390/brainsci3010101
Received: 5 November 2012 / Revised: 24 December 2012 / Accepted: 19 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (460 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Exercise represents a behavioral intervention that enhances brain health and motor function. The increase in cerebral blood volume in response to physical activity may be responsible for improving brain function. Among the various neuroimaging techniques used to monitor brain hemodynamic response during exercise,
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Exercise represents a behavioral intervention that enhances brain health and motor function. The increase in cerebral blood volume in response to physical activity may be responsible for improving brain function. Among the various neuroimaging techniques used to monitor brain hemodynamic response during exercise, functional near-infrared spectroscopy could facilitate the measurement of task-related cortical responses noninvasively and is relatively robust with regard to the subjects’ motion. Although the components of optimal exercise interventions have not been determined, evidence from animal and human studies suggests that aerobic exercise with sufficiently high intensity has neuroprotective properties and promotes motor function. This review provides an insight into the effect of physical activity (based on endurance and resistance exercises) on brain function for producing movement. Since most progress in the study of brain function has come from patients with neurological disorders (e.g., stroke and Parkinson’s patients), this review presents some findings emphasizing training paradigms for restoring motor function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview Physical Activity and Brain Function in Older Adults at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
Brain Sci. 2013, 3(1), 54-83; doi:10.3390/brainsci3010054
Received: 15 September 2012 / Revised: 16 November 2012 / Accepted: 20 December 2012 / Published: 14 January 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1927 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Leisure-time physical activity (PA) and exercise training are known to help maintain cognitive function in healthy older adults. However, relatively little is known about the effects of PA on cognitive function or brain function in those at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease through
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Leisure-time physical activity (PA) and exercise training are known to help maintain cognitive function in healthy older adults. However, relatively little is known about the effects of PA on cognitive function or brain function in those at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease through the presence of the apolipoproteinE epsilon4 (APOE-ε4) allele, diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or the presence of metabolic disease. Here, we examine the question of whether PA and exercise interventions may differentially impact cognitive trajectory, clinical outcomes, and brain structure and function among individuals at the greatest risk for AD. The literature suggests that the protective effects of PA on risk for future dementia appear to be larger in those at increased genetic risk for AD. Exercise training is also effective at helping to promote stable cognitive function in MCI patients, and greater cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with greater brain volume in early-stage AD patients. In APOE-ε4 allele carriers compared to non-carriers, greater levels of PA may be more effective in reducing amyloid burden and are associated with greater activation of semantic memory-related neural circuits. A greater research emphasis should be placed on randomized clinical trials for exercise, with clinical, behavioral, and neuroimaging outcomes in people at increased risk for AD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview Exercise Benefits Brain Function: The Monoamine Connection
Brain Sci. 2013, 3(1), 39-53; doi:10.3390/brainsci3010039
Received: 13 September 2012 / Revised: 29 October 2012 / Accepted: 7 January 2013 / Published: 11 January 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The beneficial effects of exercise on brain function have been demonstrated in animal models and in a growing number of clinical studies on humans. There are multiple mechanisms that account for the brain-enhancing effects of exercise, including neuroinflammation, vascularization, antioxidation, energy adaptation, and
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The beneficial effects of exercise on brain function have been demonstrated in animal models and in a growing number of clinical studies on humans. There are multiple mechanisms that account for the brain-enhancing effects of exercise, including neuroinflammation, vascularization, antioxidation, energy adaptation, and regulations on neurotrophic factors and neurotransmitters. Dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NE), and serotonin (5-HT) are the three major monoamine neurotransmitters that are known to be modulated by exercise. This review focuses on how these three neurotransmitters contribute to exercise affecting brain function and how it can work against neurological disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview Long-Term Consequences of Developmental Alcohol Exposure on Brain Structure and Function: Therapeutic Benefits of Physical Activity
Brain Sci. 2013, 3(1), 1-38; doi:10.3390/brainsci3010001
Received: 15 October 2012 / Revised: 1 December 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 21 December 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (627 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Developmental alcohol exposure both early in life and during adolescence can have a devastating impact on normal brain structure and functioning, leading to behavioral and cognitive impairments that persist throughout the lifespan. This review discusses human work as well as animal models used
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Developmental alcohol exposure both early in life and during adolescence can have a devastating impact on normal brain structure and functioning, leading to behavioral and cognitive impairments that persist throughout the lifespan. This review discusses human work as well as animal models used to investigate the effect of alcohol exposure at various time points during development, as well as specific behavioral and neuroanatomical deficits caused by alcohol exposure. Further, cellular and molecular mediators contributing to these alcohol-induced changes are examined, such as neurotrophic factors and apoptotic markers. Next, this review seeks to support the use of aerobic exercise as a potential therapeutic intervention for alcohol-related impairments. To date, few interventions, behavioral or pharmacological, have been proven effective in mitigating some alcohol-related deficits. Exercise is a simple therapy that can be used across species and also across socioeconomic status. It has a profoundly positive influence on many measures of learning and neuroplasticity; in particular, those measures damaged by alcohol exposure. This review discusses current evidence that exercise may mitigate damage caused by developmental alcohol exposure and is a promising therapeutic target for future research and intervention strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview Wnt Signaling in Neurogenesis during Aging and Physical Activity
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 745-768; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040745
Received: 30 September 2012 / Revised: 27 November 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 14 December 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (956 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the past decade, much progress has been made regarding our understanding of neurogenesis in both young and old animals and where it occurs throughout the lifespan, although the growth of new neurons declines with increasing age. In addition, physical activity can reverse
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Over the past decade, much progress has been made regarding our understanding of neurogenesis in both young and old animals and where it occurs throughout the lifespan, although the growth of new neurons declines with increasing age. In addition, physical activity can reverse this age-dependent decline in neurogenesis. Highly correlated with this decline is the degree of inter and intracellular Wnt signaling, the molecular mechanisms of which have only recently started to be elucidated. So far, most of what we know about intracellular signaling during/following exercise centers around the CREB/CRE initiated transcriptional events. Relatively little is known, however, about how aging and physical activity affect the Wnt signaling pathway. Herein, we briefly review the salient features of neurogenesis in young and then in old adult animals. Then, we discuss Wnt signaling and review the very few in vitro and in vivo studies that have examined the Wnt signaling pathways in aging and physical activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview Physical Activity, Cognitive Function, and Brain Health: What Is the Role of Exercise Training in the Prevention of Dementia?
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 684-708; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040684
Received: 23 August 2012 / Revised: 22 October 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 29 November 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (254 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Tor preventive measures are necessary to attenuate the increased economic and social burden of dementia. This review will focus on the potential for physical activity and exercise training to promote brain health and improve cognitive function via neurophysiological changes. We will review pertinent
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Tor preventive measures are necessary to attenuate the increased economic and social burden of dementia. This review will focus on the potential for physical activity and exercise training to promote brain health and improve cognitive function via neurophysiological changes. We will review pertinent animal and human research examining the effects of physical activity on cognitive function and neurophysiology. We will discuss cross-sectional and longitudinal studies addressing the relationship between neurocognitive health and cardiorespiratory fitness or habitual activity level. We will then present and discuss longitudinal investigations examining the effects of exercise training on cognitive function and neurophysiology. We will conclude by summarizing our current understanding of the relationship between physical activity and brain health, and present areas for future research given the current gaps in our understanding of this issue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
Open AccessReview On Aerobic Exercise and Behavioral and Neural Plasticity
Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 709-744; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040709
Received: 20 September 2012 / Revised: 1 November 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 29 November 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (278 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Aerobic exercise promotes rapid and profound alterations in the brain. Depending upon the pattern and duration of exercise, these changes in the brain may extend beyond traditional motor areas to regions and structures normally linked to learning, cognition, and emotion. Exercise-induced alterations may
[...] Read more.
Aerobic exercise promotes rapid and profound alterations in the brain. Depending upon the pattern and duration of exercise, these changes in the brain may extend beyond traditional motor areas to regions and structures normally linked to learning, cognition, and emotion. Exercise-induced alterations may include changes in blood flow, hormone and growth factor release, receptor expression, angiogenesis, apoptosis, neurogenesis, and synaptogenesis. Together, we believe that these changes underlie elevations of mood and prompt the heightened behavioral plasticity commonly observed following adoption of a chronic exercise regimen. In the following paper, we will explore both the psychological and psychobiological literatures relating to exercise effects on brain in both human and non-human animals and will attempt to link plastic changes in these neural structures to modifications in learned behavior and emotional expression. In addition, we will explore the therapeutic potential of exercise given recent reports that aerobic exercise may serve as a neuroprotectant and can also slow cognitive decline during normal and pathological aging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)

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