Special Issue "Exercise and Brain Function—Series II"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425). This special issue belongs to the section "Systems Neuroscience".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 March 2021) | Viewed by 8420

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Quincy J. Almeida
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Movement Disorders Research & Rehabilitation Centre, Faculty of Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5, Canada
Interests: applied neuroscience; brain function; basal ganglia; Parkinson’s disease; neurological wellness; neurodegeneration; cognitive function; motor control; gait; balance
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Scientific evidence for the beneficial effects of exercise on brain function continues to accumulate. The risk associated with many neurological diseases can be significantly reduced with exercise; however, the need for evidence-based scientific evaluation is critical, as not all exercises are created equal. In fact, it is just as important to identify exercises that may worsen neurological conditions. 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. Furthermore, research is now starting to question whether subjective scales should be prioritized over improved patient quality of life.

In the advent of a global pandemic, an equally important question is whether online interventions and assessments can yield the same results and scientific scrutiny that face-to-face research might. We continue to question whether certain targeted exercises could have potential for improving brain function. For example, as “multi-modal” strategies continue to gain popularity, how might we identify the specific exercises that are beneficial while isolating the others that do harm?

The current Special Issue is intended to collect a selected number of articles that demonstrate how exercise might influence brain function. It further aims to investigate how neurological populations might benefit from specific and targeted exercise.

Dr. Quincy J. Almeida
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

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

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Cognitive Exercise Self-Efficacy of Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Measurement and Associations with Other Self-Reported Cognitive Exercise Factors
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(6), 672; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060672 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 875
Abstract
Exercise self-efficacy, the confidence a person has in their ability to develop and meet exercise goals, is key to exercise motivation. The primary objective of this pilot study was to explore associations among cognitive exercise self-efficacy, cognitive exercise frequency, challenge, and enjoyment in [...] Read more.
Exercise self-efficacy, the confidence a person has in their ability to develop and meet exercise goals, is key to exercise motivation. The primary objective of this pilot study was to explore associations among cognitive exercise self-efficacy, cognitive exercise frequency, challenge, and enjoyment in older adults. A prospective, cross-sectional, observational study design was used with 133 community-dwelling individuals aged 55 years and older. Respondents completed a cognitive exercise self-efficacy scale and responded to cognitive exercise queries. Individuals who engaged in cognitive exercise demonstrated greater cognitive exercise self-efficacy. Cognitive exercise self-efficacy ratings were significantly different across challenge and enjoyment conditions (Pearson’s χ2 test, df = 9, N = 133, χ2 = 123.49, p < 0.01), such that the greater the perception of each, the greater the cognitive exercise self-efficacy (p < 0.01). The comparative impact of perceived enjoyment on cognitive exercise self-efficacy was greater than the impact of perceived challenge. Study findings support positive associations among cognitive exercise self-efficacy, cognitive exercise frequency, challenge, and enjoyment. Consideration of these findings may inform design and sustained implementation of motivating cognitive exercise programs to maximize health and quality of life outcomes of healthy and neurologic older adult populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function—Series II)
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Article
Executive Function Improves Following Acute Exercise in Adults with Down Syndrome
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(5), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11050620 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 1199
Abstract
The influence of exercise on brain function is an important topic, especially in persons with intellectual deficits. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of an acute bout of resistance training (RT) compared to assisted cycle therapy (ACT) and no [...] Read more.
The influence of exercise on brain function is an important topic, especially in persons with intellectual deficits. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of an acute bout of resistance training (RT) compared to assisted cycle therapy (ACT) and no training (NT) in adults with DS on cognitive function. Fourteen participants attended four sessions: a baseline assessment, an assisted cycling therapy (ACT) session, a resistance training (RT) session, and a session of no training (NT). In the RT session, the leg press, chest press, seated row, leg curl, shoulder press, and latissimus pulldown were performed. The ACT session consisted of 30 min of cycling and in NT session consisted of 20 min of board games. Inhibition was measured by the Erikson flanker task and cognitive planning was measured by the Tower of London test and both were administered prior to (pretest) and after each intervention (posttest). Our results showed that inhibition time improved more following RT and ACT than NT. There was also a significant difference between ACT and NT. For cognitive planning, improvements were seen following ACT and NT. In conclusion, an acute session of ACT demonstrated a significant trend towards improvements in executive functions in adults with DS which we interpreted using a model of neural changes and the cognitive stimulation hypothesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function—Series II)
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Article
Rehabilitation of Falls in Parkinson’s Disease: Self-Perception vs. Objective Measures of Fall Risk
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030320 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 882
Abstract
Falls are an important cause of injury and increased hospital/long-term care facility stays and has been reported in 70% of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), yet there is limited effectiveness of medications for reducing falls. As an adjunct, many exercise therapies succeed in [...] Read more.
Falls are an important cause of injury and increased hospital/long-term care facility stays and has been reported in 70% of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), yet there is limited effectiveness of medications for reducing falls. As an adjunct, many exercise therapies succeed in objectively reducing the number of falls, but this may not translate to improved quality of life (QOL). Importantly, self-perceived fall risk has a greater influence on activities of daily living and QOL, making it important to evaluate in the rehabilitation of PD. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of a 10-week exercise intervention (PD SAFE × TM) on self-perceived (according to balance confidence measures) and objective measures of gait that are commonly linked to fall risk in PD. Participants (N = 44) with PD completed PD SAFE × TM. Pre-/post-assessment involved the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (perception), objective falls characteristics (stride time, stride width, stride length, and stride variability), and symptom severity (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor subsection III (UPDRS-III)) after participants were stratified into a mild (no-balance impairment) vs. severe (balance impairment) groups. Overall disease severity (F (1, 43) = 8.75, p < 0.003) and all objective fall parameters improved (p < 0.05) in both groups, yet self-perceived fall risk improved in only the severe PD group F (1, 43) = 9.86, p < 0.022. Given that self-perceived fall risk and objective fall risk both play a role in the quality of life, identifying strategies to improve both aspects may be important in improving the overall quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function—Series II)
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Article
Relationship between Cognitive Functions and Sport-Specific Physical Performance in Youth Volleyball Players
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020227 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1422
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between basic cognitive functions and sport-specific physical performance in young volleyball players. Forty-three female volleyball players (age 11.2 ± 0.8 years) were tested for cognitive performance by measuring simple reaction time (clinical reaction [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between basic cognitive functions and sport-specific physical performance in young volleyball players. Forty-three female volleyball players (age 11.2 ± 0.8 years) were tested for cognitive performance by measuring simple reaction time (clinical reaction time), executive control (Flanker task), and perceptual speed (visual search task). Moreover, a set of tests was used to assess physical abilities as volleyball-specific skills (accuracy of setting, passing, and serving) and motor skills (change of direction, vertical jump, and balance). A cumulated value for both cognitive and sport-specific physical performance tests was computed by adding up each test’s domain outcomes. Pearson’s r correlation analysis showed a large positive correlation (r = 0.45, d-value = 1.01) of the cumulated score summarizing cognitive functions with the cumulated score summarizing sport-specific physical performance. Moreover, small-to-medium correlations (d-value from 0.63 to 0.73) were found between cognitive and motor skills. Given the cumulative scores, these results suggest that volleyball athletes with superior basic cognitive functions present better sport-specific physical performance. Our findings encourage to extend the knowledge of the associations between cognitive and motor skills within a sports performance context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function—Series II)
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Article
Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity by Vibratory Training in Young and Old Mice
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010082 - 10 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 989
Abstract
In the past 40 years, scientific research has shown how Whole Body Vibration concept represents a strong stimulus for the whole organism. Low (<30 Hz), medium (30–80 Hz), and high (>80 Hz) frequency vibrations can have both positive and negative effects, depending on [...] Read more.
In the past 40 years, scientific research has shown how Whole Body Vibration concept represents a strong stimulus for the whole organism. Low (<30 Hz), medium (30–80 Hz), and high (>80 Hz) frequency vibrations can have both positive and negative effects, depending on the oscillation type and duration of exposure to which the body is subjected. However, very little is known about the effects of vibratory training on the brain. In this regard, we verified whether three vibratory training protocols, differing in terms of vibration frequency and exposure time to vibration, could modulate synaptic plasticity in an experimental mouse model, by extracellular recordings in vitro in hippocampal slices of mice of 4 and 24 months old. Our results showed that vibratory training can modulate synaptic plasticity differently, depending on the protocol used, and that the best effects are related to the training protocol characterized by a low vibration frequency and a longer recovery time. Future studies will aim to understand the brain responses to various types of vibratory training and to explore the underlying mechanisms, also evaluating the presence of any structural and functional changes due to vibratory training. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function—Series II)
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Review

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Review
Sensory Attenuation in Sport and Rehabilitation: Perspective from Research in Parkinson’s Disease
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(5), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11050580 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2340
Abstract
People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience motor symptoms that are affected by sensory information in the environment. Sensory attenuation describes the modulation of sensory input caused by motor intent. This appears to be altered in PD and may index important sensorimotor processes underpinning [...] Read more.
People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience motor symptoms that are affected by sensory information in the environment. Sensory attenuation describes the modulation of sensory input caused by motor intent. This appears to be altered in PD and may index important sensorimotor processes underpinning PD symptoms. We review recent findings investigating sensory attenuation and reconcile seemingly disparate results with an emphasis on task-relevance in the modulation of sensory input. Sensory attenuation paradigms, across different sensory modalities, capture how two identical stimuli can elicit markedly different perceptual experiences depending on our predictions of the event, but also the context in which the event occurs. In particular, it appears as though contextual information may be used to suppress or facilitate a response to a stimulus on the basis of task-relevance. We support this viewpoint by considering the role of the basal ganglia in task-relevant sensory filtering and the use of contextual signals in complex environments to shape action and perception. This perspective highlights the dual effect of basal ganglia dysfunction in PD, whereby a reduced capacity to filter task-relevant signals harms the ability to integrate contextual cues, just when such cues are required to effectively navigate and interact with our environment. Finally, we suggest how this framework might be used to establish principles for effective rehabilitation in the treatment of PD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function—Series II)
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