Exercise 'sweet spot' may reverse brain decline in dementia breakthrough

A new study has the maintain a “sweet spot” that could help reverse the effects of dementia.

Researchers at the University of Queensland Australia’s Queensland Brain Institute claim that 35 days of training could be enough to significantly improve cognitive performance. reports the Express.

It has already been established that exercise has a strong influence on the brain. The scientists therefore examined a sample of mice between the ages of 10 weeks and 24 months and assessed their spatial navigation and memory using the active location avoidance (APA) task.

As expected, older rodents between the ages of 18 and 24 months performed significantly worse than their younger conspecifics over the course of the five-day test.

However, the researchers found a significant improvement in the learning abilities of mice after training for 35 days.

They said: “We tested the cognitive abilities of older mice after defined training times and found an optimal phase of the ‘sweet spot’ that significantly improves their spatial learning.”

Using MRI scans, the researchers were later able to attribute these improvements to better connectivity in the dentate gyrus, part of the hippocampal region of the brain.

Doctor Blackmore, lead author of the study, said, “With the help of MRIs, we were able to examine the brain after exercise and, for the first time, identify the critical changes in the structure and functional circuitry of the hippocampus that are necessary for improved spatial learning.”

This information helped the team to conclude that 35 days of training may not be the “sweet spot” for training in all conditions and for all ages.

They added, “What we are showing is that a thorough study of different periods of exercise is critical to understanding the mechanisms underlying post-exercise cognitive improvements.”

The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for learning and verbal memory and is directly influenced by movement.

This is because exercising stimulates the production of new brain cells in this region, which in turn increases their volume and strengthens long-term memory.

“The function of the hippocampus is critical to spatial and contextual learning, and its decline with age contributes to cognitive impairment,” said Dr. Blackmore.

“Exercise can improve hippocampal function, but the amount of exercise and the mechanisms by which it works are largely unknown.”

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