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June 02, 2010

Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Function

Written by Kate Tenforde

Here's another reason to keep exercising!

Effects of aerobic exercise training on cognitive function and cortical vascularity in monkeys

This study examined whether regular exercise training, at a level that would be recommended for middle-aged people interested in improving fitness could lead to improved cognitive performance and increased blood flow to the brain in another primate species.

Adult female cynomolgus monkeys were trained to run on treadmills for 1 h a day, 5 days a week, for a 5 month period (n=16; 1.9+/-0.4 miles/day). A sedentary control group sat daily on immobile treadmills (n=8). Half of the runners had an additional sedentary period for 3 months at the end of the exercise period (n=8). In all groups, half of the monkeys were middle-aged (10-12 years old) and half were more mature (15-17 years old). Starting the fifth week of exercise training, monkeys underwent cognitive testing using the Wisconsin General Testing Apparatus (WGTA). Regardless of age, the exercising group learned to use the WGTA significantly faster (4.6+/-3.4 days) compared to controls (8.3+/-4.8 days; P=0.05). At the end of 5 months of running monkeys showed increased fitness, and the vascular volume fraction in the motor cortex in mature adult running monkeys was increased significantly compared to controls (P=0.029). However, increased vascular volume did not remain apparent after a 3-month sedentary period. These findings indicate that the level of exercise associated with improved fitness in middle-aged humans is sufficient to increase both the rate of learning and blood flow to the cerebral cortex, at least during the period of regular exercise


 

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Kate Tenforde

Kate Tenforde

2004 Olympian Kate O’Neill Tenforde joined the runcoach staff in April, 2010. Having grown up outside of Boston, her earliest running memory is traveling downtown every spring to watch the end of the Boston Marathon.

Kate competed for Yale University, where she was a seven-time All-American, ten-time Ivy League Champion, and was named NCAA Woman of the Year for Connecticut in 2003. During Kate’s senior year she was a three-time runner-up at the NCAA championships. She was also awarded Academic All-American honors three times and was a two-time Academic All-Ivy.

In the lead up to the 2004 Olympics, she dropped over a minute from her previous best in the 10,000 meters, with a time of 31:34 which eclipsed the Olympic A qualifying standard. She later cinched her spot on the Olympic roster by finishing third at the 2004 Olympic Trials and finished the year ranked third for American women at the distance.

In 2007, Kate made her marathon debut at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon and finished 3rd. In 2010 she returned to competition after a long layoff due to injury and finished 7th at the Bay to Breakers and 14th at the Peachtree Road Race.

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