NYC Healthcare News



Study finds moderate exercise enhances DMN connectivity in specific regions of brain

November 03, 2015

A recent study by Kramer, Voss and their colleagues found that older adults who are more fit tend to have better connectivity in specific regions of the DMN than their sedentary peers. Those with more connectivity in the DMN also tend to be better at planning, prioritizing, strategizing and multi-tasking.

The new study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine whether aerobic activity increased connectivity in the DMN or other brain networks. The researchers measured participants' brain connectivity and performance on cognitive tasks at the beginning of the study, at six months and after a year of either walking or toning and stretching.

At the end of the year, DMN connectivity was significantly improved in the brains of the older walkers, but not in the stretching and toning group, the researchers report.

The walkers also had increased connectivity in parts of another brain circuit (the fronto-executive network, which aids in the performance of complex tasks) and they did significantly better on cognitive tests than their toning and stretching peers.

Previous studies have found that aerobic exercise can enhance the function of specific brain structures, Kramer said. This study shows that even moderate aerobic exercise also improves the coordination of important brain networks.

"The higher the connectivity, the better the performance on some of these cognitive tasks, especially the ones we call executive control tasks - things like planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity, working memory and multitasking," Kramer said. These are the very skills that tend to decline with aging, he said.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign