Sports, Exercise and Brain Health

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 January 2024) | Viewed by 2363

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, 71122 Foggia, FG, Italy
Interests: sport; physical exercise; sport physiology; cortical excitability; transcranial magnetic stimulation
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is commonly known that regular exercise is good for people's cognition and brain health, especially in older persons. This point of view is not unexpected given that "exercise is the real polypill" based on peripheral organ-induced variables. The effects of habitual exercise on the human body are generally thought to be the outcome of recurrent activity and may, therefore, be linked to cumulative acute responses to exercise. Similar to how acute exercise can improve brain function, despite this is a temporary effect, it is possible to suggest that chronic exercise training, which involves regular repetition, can improve brain health. However, the exact mechanisms by which chronic exercise enhances brain function are still unknown, particularly regarding how the impact of acute exercise on brain function affects that of chronic exercise. For instance, by altering exercise intensity, duration, and frequency, the effects of chronic exercise can be changed while still using the same acute exercise. Therefore, it may be challenging to develop the ideal exercise prescription for chronic brain health based on findings on the impact of acute exercise on brain function. However, in order to inform appropriate exercise recommendations, it is crucial to investigate and organize the underlying mechanisms of acute exercise for brain health. A growing body of evidence suggests that the myokines cathepsin B and irisin, which are muscle-induced peripheral factors, cross the blood–brain barrier to increase the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which in turn, enhances neurogenesis, memory, and learning. However, despite the fact that the production of lactate has been widely used as a biomarker to reflect exercise mode, strength, and duration, lactate was not investigated to determine the mechanism of exercise-induced improvement in brain function.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to offer a starting point to numerous researchers working in this sector. We will consider all studies aimed at investigating the effects of physical exercise (acute or long-term) on the brain.

Dr. Fiorenzo Moscatelli
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Messina
Dr. Rita Polito
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • sport
  • physical exercise
  • sport physiology
  • cortical excitability
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • brain health
  • brain plasticity
  • executive function
  • mental health

Published Papers (1 paper)

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10 pages, 2875 KiB  
Testing a Multicomponent Training Designed to Improve Sprint, Agility and Decision-Making in Elite Basketball Players
by Stefania Lucia, Mattia Digno, Iker Madinabeitia and Francesco Di Russo
Brain Sci. 2023, 13(7), 984; - 22 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1935
This study tested if, in elite basketball players’ training, the integration of a cognitive component within a multi-component training (MCT) could be more effective than an MCT with motor components only to improve both physical and cognitive skills. To this purpose, we designed [...] Read more.
This study tested if, in elite basketball players’ training, the integration of a cognitive component within a multi-component training (MCT) could be more effective than an MCT with motor components only to improve both physical and cognitive skills. To this purpose, we designed an MCT focussed on sprint and agility incorporating a cognitive-motor dual-task training (CMDT) focussed on decision-making speed. Specific tests on sprint, agility and decision-making, and event-related potential (ERP) during the latter test were evaluated before and after the intervention. Thirty elite basketball players were recruited and divided into an experimental group executing CMDT integrated into the MCT and a control group performing the motor MCT (without cognitive components). The MCT with CMDT session was performed by four athletes simultaneously that executed different circuits. One circuit was the CMDT which was realized using interactive devices. Results on physical performance showed that only the experimental group improved in sprint and agility and also shortened response time in the decision-making test. At the neural level, the experimental group only shows an increase in the P3 ERP component, which has been associated with a series of post-perceptual cognitive functions, including decision-making. In conclusion, CMDT implemented within an MCT, likely stimulating more than physical training cortical plasticity, could be more effective than a motor MCT alone in improving the physical and cognitive skills of elite basketball players in five weeks only. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sports, Exercise and Brain Health)
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