#Running & regular exercise in #midlife reduces risks of cognitive decline; Running & exercise has shown a positive correlation in hippocampal dependent cognitive performance. #Neurogenesis #CognitiveFunction
By: Lisa Lukianoff, Psy.D.
Running and exercise are shown to boost neurogenesis, new cell growth, in adult’s hippocampus region, a region in the brain that promotes regulation of emotion, memory function, and the autonomic nervous system. Researchers Yau, Gil-Mohapel, Christie, & So (2014) examine this process as a potential preventative strategy and treatment to reduce cognitive decline.
The structural plasticity of the hippocampal region is altered by neurodegenerative diseases, thus causing cognitive impairment. Exercise and the process of neurogenesis in this region improve cognitive functions. “…hippocampal neuronal circuits known to be involved in spatial learning and possess particular physiological properties that make them more susceptible to behavioral-dependent synaptic plasticity…it is reasonable to speculate that these new neurons might be integral for hippocampal-dependent learning…”, (Yau, Gil-Mohapel, Christie, & So, 2014).
Running and exercise have shown a positive correlation between hippocampal-dependent cognitive performance and change in the cerebral blood volume. The results of this research indicate that adults produce new neurons, neurogenesis, in the hippocampus region and this play a vital role in cognitive function, learning, and memory.
“…a meta-analysis study has shown that 1 to 12 months of exercise in healthy adults brings behavioral benefits…significant increases in memory, attention, processing speed, and executive function…regular engagement in physical exercise in midlife is associated with reduced risks of developing dementia later on in life…physical exercise might indeed have preventative effects with regard to the development of age-related cognitive decline”, (Yau, Gil-Mohapel, Christie, & So, 2014).
Providing a person with a therapeutic prescription of running and/or exercise can be scientifically valid and clinically relevant for working towards restoring and improving the endogenous neurogenic capacity of an individual.
Yau, S. Y., Gil-Mohapel, J., Christie, B. R., & So, K. F. (2014). Physical Exercise-Induced Adult Neurogenesis: A Good Strategy to Prevent Cognitive Decline in Neurodegenerative Diseases?. BioMed research international. Volume 403120; pp. 1-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/403120
#Endocannabinoids produced by #Running; the positive psychological effects of #EnduranceExercise #RunnersHigh
By: Lisa Lukianoff, Psy.D.
Endurance running or just long distance running produces endogenous neurotransmitters called “endocannabinoids” (eCBs).
Interestingly this neuroscience term bares a striking resemblance to the function of cannabis. And based on this research, it's nature’s way of providing a calming sense of well-being and reinforcing the rewards of endurance running, neurobiologically speaking. The brain produces its own medicinal properties as a result of endurance activities. We refer to this as "runners high".
The eCB neurotransmitters activate the cannabinoid receptors in the reward region of the brain and are activity-dependent. This neurobiological reward system and feedback loop provide a plausible explanation for why humans engage in endurance exercise despite the potential for injury and loss of energy.
Endocannabinoid is neuroscience behind the popular reference to a “runners high”. An increase of eCB’s neurotransmitters into the bloodstream enhances a person’s sense of well-being, reduces anxiety (anxiolytic), which produces a calming sense post-run, and also buffers the sensation of pain.
“Exercise-induced reductions in pain sensation lead to feelings of effortlessness associated with the strict definition of the runner’s high and improve exercise performance by allowing individuals to run longer distances (Dietrich and McDaniel, 2004). Both the psychological and analgesic effects of CB receptor activation mirror athletes’ descriptions of the neurobiological rewards associated with exercise (Dietrich and McDaniel, 2004)”, (Raichlen, Foster, Gerdeman, Seillier, & Giuffrida, 2012).
The release of eCB’s is intensity-dependent, which is why endurance running and other aerobic exercise create enough intensity for this neurobiological reward to function.
Raichlen, D. A., Foster, A. D., Gerdeman, G. L., Seillier, A., & Giuffrida, A. (2012). Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the ‘runner’s high’. The Journal of experimental biology. Volume 215(8); pp. 1331-1336.
#fMRI studies show #neurological changes & activity in patient's receiving #psychotherapy treatment #psychoanalysis #depression
fMRI studies show neurological changes & activity in patient's receiving psychotherapy treatment. Implicit in these findings are both neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, a byproduct of treatment.
Researchers Buchheim, Labek, Walter & Viviani (2013) designed an empirical research study to investigate the outcome of long-term psychotherapy from a neurobiological perspective. “In the present study, we attempted to integrate a clinical description of the psychoanalytic process with two empirical instruments…brain activity based on a functional neuroimaging probe”, (p. 9).
They wanted to create a study that would allow us to “see” the effects of psychotherapy on the brain. To accomplish this, the design included using clinical data, a standardized instrument of the psychotherapeutic process (Psychotherapy process Q-Set, PQS), and functional neuroimaging (fMRI). fMRI scans were administered after therapy sessions while the patient viewed the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System (AAP). This was done for 12-months.
In their research findings Buchheim, Viviani, Kessler, Kachele, Cierpka, Roth, George, Kernberg, Bruns, & Taubner (2012) show improvements in depressive symptoms and neural activity in regions of the brain. "This is the first study documenting neurobiological changes in circuits implicated in emotional reactivity and control after long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy". These scans showed neurological changes and activity in both patients receiving psychotherapy treatment.
In particular, the fMRI’s scans showed changes in the hippocampus, amygdala , subgenual cingulate, and medial prefrontal cortex after psychotherapy treatment. These findings documented neurobiological changes and a reduction of emotional reactivity after long-term psychotherapy. “The significant association of the changes in the subgenual cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex with symptom improvement supported the hypothesis of their relevance to the changes intervened during therapy”, (p. 5).
They conducted a single-case study of a 42-year-old woman who received psychotherapy treatments for one year. The patient was described as having a disorganized attachment style with narcissistic traits, characterized by chronic fluctuating moods and self-esteem. The fMRI scans revealed neural activation in the ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with controlling one’s focus and attention, and depression.
Other neural activation revealed from the fMRI scans included the pregenual portion of the medial prefrontal cortex, the posterior cingulate and precuneus, the middle temporal gyrus, and the anterior tip of the inferior temporal gyrus, and the occipital calcarine cortex. Buchheim, Labek, Walter & Viviani (2013) felt that these areas were most significant to this study because “The medial prefrontal cortex may also be associated with changes after the therapy of affective disorders…” (p. 9). They believe that observable neurological changes from therapy will be most visible in these brain regions.
The neurological response to psychotherapy allowed them to track this patient’s defensive characteristic via neural activity viewed in the scans. “Using functional neuroimaging, we were able to objectify the defensive structure of this patient during this phase of psychoanalytic treatment and the occurrence of difficult sessions”, (p. 11).
While these research findings may not answer many important questions, they do show a distinct correlation between psychotherapy treatments and neurological activity. More research is needed in this area. “The relevance of these finding for future studies rests in the possibility of documenting specific mechanisms of action of depression therapy by systematically collating results from different studies and comparing different psychotherapeutic approaches…”, (p. 6).
Buchheim A, Labek K, Walter S, & Viviani R. (2013). A clinical case study of a psychoanalytic psychotherapy monitored with functional neuroimaging. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Volume 7(677); pp. 1-13. Doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00677.
Scientific research that gives weight and meaning to the importance of good group juju!
Essential for athletes on a (sports) team is the ability to understand the intentions and goals of each other and of their opponents. To do this they must be able to communicate accurately, have positive social connections, and convey a strong sense of group cohesion among the team. All of this is needed for a successful performance.
This article is a brief overview of the biological psychology process involved in creating a positive mindset among sport team members. It begins with an introduction into the neuroscience behind emotional bonds and how they are relevant. It then expands into a discussion about how positive emotions encourage a better performance overall. These findings are specific to a sports team of players but are also useful among any team group.
In their research Pepping & Timmermans (2012) examine the role Oxytocin plays in the biopsychological process of emotions and moods. Oxytocin is a hypothalamic hormone stored in the posterior pituitary at the base of the brain. This hormone is vital in women during childbirth and lactation, in men and women and how they form pair-bonds in intimate relationships, in social memory, social recognition, and social attachment behavior.
Since Oxytocin is directly related to the biopsychological process of developing emotions between people, Pepping & Timmermans (2012) assert that this extends to sports team members. Integral to a sports team is building trust, cohesion, cooperation, and social motivation among the players. Sports teams share positive experiences and emotions, creating a group cohesion and collaborative effort with a common goal. Research findings illuminate a positive correlation between players who engage in encouraging and supportive behaviors with greater performance and achievements. Their research indicates that “positive social interactions” and “prosocial celebratory behaviors” are linked to the bonding experience of Oxytocin.
Expressions of social emotions communicate cooperation and strategies among sports team members. Research also shows that positive emotions “have profound influences on a number of processes, including attentional control, cognition, and interpersonal functioning “. The beneficial subcomponents of sharing positive emotions are linked to performance, perception, attention, memory, decision-making and judgment. “The expression of an emotional state in one person leads to the experience of similar emotions in a person observing the expression…emotions influence other's people's emotions, feelings, and behaviors, leading to the convergence of emotions and moods”, (Pepping & Timmermans, 2012, p. 2). These findings give support to the importance of all team members and how well they interact.
The bonding effects of Oxytocin enhance the ability for empathy. In very general terms empathy is the capacity to see things from another person’s perspective and to recognize the internal (emotional) states of another. What this research shows is that an increase in Oxytocin produces an increase in the capacity for empathy. Empathy is also related to a player’s ability to perceive the opponent's intentions.
“Oxytocin has effects on cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, mind reading, positive and negative social emotions…cause convergence of positive emotions and moods between people and make it possible that athletes can respond to the emotional behavior from their fellow players and opponents”, (p. 16).
The researcher’s on this team agree that more research is needed on this topic. They believe that new discoveries will have a “significant importance for sport psychological and sports science support, talent identification, coaching, training, team selection, and team development”, (p. 16).
Pepping, G. & Timmermans, E. (2012). Oxytocin and the Biopsychology of Performance in Team Sports. Scientific World Journal. Volume 2012; 2012: 567363. Doi: 10.1100/2012/567363. PMCID: PMC3444846.
Researcher Dr. Eric Kandel, whose contributions at Columbia University include the molecular basis of memory and a team, discovered therapeutic interventions like exercise help reduce age-related memory loss. “We were astonished that not only did this improve the mice’s performance on the memory tests, but their performance was comparable to that of young mice,” said Dr. Pavlopoulos.“The fact that we were able to reverse age-related memory loss in mice is very encouraging,” said Dr. Kandel.
They examined proteins in human cells in the hippocampus region that contribute to memory functions. These proteins, RbAp48 and the PKA-CREB1-CBP, are valid targets for therapeutic intervention.
Agents that enhance this pathway have already been shown to improve age-related hippocampus dysfunction in rodents. “But the broader point is that to develop effective interventions, you first have to find the right target. Now we have a good target... we have a way to screen therapies that might be effective, be they pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, or physical and cognitive exercises.”
#CardiovascularExercise enhances brain functioning in aging adults, #EnhancedBrainFunction, #AgingAdults
By: Lisa Lukianoff, Psy.D.
Have you ever noticed how mentally alert you feel after exercising? Or experienced a lessening degree of mental fatigue afterwards? Scientific research findings suggest an increase in executive functioning as a result of exercise. Which turns out to be especially significant for older adults.
As a person ages, so dose their brain. Aging adult brains have typically shown some reduced cognitive functioning and changes in various regions. However, with an increase in healthy-aging adults, whose life vitality and longevity have increased substantially, researchers are focusing on what contributes to this new paradigm in aging. "Both cognitive and physical exercise have been discussed as promising interventions for healthy cognitive aging", ((Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013, p. 1).
Researchers identified strategies and characteristics for enhanced brain functioning throughout the lifespan. Resent neuroscience findings have showed that enhanced brain functioning, neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are attainable throughout life stages for aging individuals. Integral to achieving healthy aging are behaviors and activities that reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease; a Mediterranean diet plan and regular physical exercise.
Rhey studied the neurological changes and effects of cycling (cardiovascular exercise) on aging adults. These findings were significant in that they confirmed a “healthy” lifestyle can modulate cognitive brain functioning as one age and it improves frontal lobe and memory functioning. “On the neuronal level, the spatial training group, as compared to the perceptual training group, showed significant activation changes from pre- to posttest in the superior and middle temporal gyri and the medial temporal lobe of the right hemisphere”, (Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013, p. 9).
Overall these research findings show a positive correlation between physical (cardiovascular) exercise with improved executive (brain) functioning. “These improvements were accompanied by functional changes in associated frontal brain regions, most likely indicating more efficient neuronal processing”, (Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013, p. 2).
Additionally these researchers discovered that a healthy lifestyle of regular cardiovascular exercise overall reduces the decline of grey and white matter in brain and improves memory. “Hötting et al. found a positive correlation between the increase in cardiovascular fitness and verbal memory after a six-month exercise training, suggesting a direct relation between physical exercising success and cognitive gains”, (Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013).
Another research cited in this study "proposed the idea that a combination of physical activity and cognitive challenge might be most effective in inducing beneficial and permanent effects on the brain’s structure and function".
lzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K. (2013). Cardiovascular fitness modulates brain activation associated with spatial learning. BMC Neuroscience. Volume 14(73). Doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-73.
Current research supports cardiovascular exercise, like running and cycling, enhances neuroplasticity (the creation of new neural pathways) in regions of the brain that improve cognitive function. This study was conducted on aging adults.
These finding suggest that adhering to a cardiovascular exercise regime may reduce cognitive and neural decline in aging adults and slow age-related decline in the hippocampus, a region in the brain that processes short-term memory to long-term memory and processes spatial navigating. This is also the first region in the brain to be damaged by Alzheimer’s disease, (Hayes, Hayes, Cadden, & Verfaellie, 2013).
Research in a previous article (http://www.brainfacts.org/Across-the-Lifespan/Diet-and-Exercise/Articles/2013/Physical-Exercise-Beefs-Up-the-Brain ) showed that the hippocampus is an area known for neurogenesis (the growth of new cells) as a previous study shows that running and exercise also increases this new cell growth.
This cumulative research shows that cardiovascular exercise increases both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, which is overall great for your brain.
Hayes, S., Hayes, J., Cadden, M., & Verfaellie, M. (2013). A review of cardiorespiratory fitness-related neuroplasticity in the aging brain. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Volume 5(31). DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2013.00031 PMCID: PMC3709413.
#Running and other aerobic exercise increase #neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells) and enhance cognition
Running (and cycling) produce positive neurological brain enhancements. Extrapolating from research on mice and monkeys, this research evidence shows that increased aerobic exercise increases cognitive functioning across the lifespan which is likely due to increased blood flow to the brain. Additionally, fMRI studies on older adults who exercised regularly show an increase in their hippocampus by 2%. These findings demonstrate a pattern of new cell growth in that region of the brain.
Read published research article on http://www.Brainfacts.orghttp://www.brainfacts.org/Across-the-Lifespan/Diet-and-Exercise/Articles/2013/Physical-Exercise-Beefs-Up-the-Brain
#Runner's research shows a #anxiolytic (#anti_anxiety) effect in the #ventral_hippocampus and stimulation of the production of #GABA. In other words, running has a calming effect on anxiety.
Runner's brains produce the stimulation of new neurons that release GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) which acts as a neural inhibitory activity. This produces a calming sense in the brain. This research suggests that the hippocampus of runners produces a different response to stress. For runners physical exertion stimulates neurogenesis (new cell production) in the dentate gyrus, an area in the hippocampus region known for high rates of neurogenesis and receiving excitatory input from the frontal cortex. It also increases production of GABA (gamma-Aminobutryic acid), which calms the nervous system.
The results support the anti-anxiety effects of long-term running and increased neurogenesis throughout the dentate gyrus (Schoenfeld, T., Rada, P., Pieruzzini, P., Hsueh, B., & Gould, E., 2013).(Schoenfeld, T., Rada, P., Pieruzzini, P., Hsueh, B., & Gould, E., 2013). Journal of Neuroscience, 2013 May 1;33(18):7770-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5352-12.2013.Physical exercise prevents stress-induced activation of granule neurons and enhances local inhibitory mechanisms in the dentate gyrus.http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/18/7770.short
"Running significantly reduced OA and hip replacement risk due to, in part, running's association with lower BMI, whereas other exercise increased OA and hip replacement risk" (Williams, PT., 2013) Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk, July 2013, Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab, doi: 1249/MSS.ob13e31885126.
Experiencing stressful situations prompts a cascading neuropsychological response, in our brains and in our bodies.
During episodes of stressful encounters, the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis acts as a regulator,. The HPA is both influenced by and provide feedback to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands. The HPA function is a primary aspect of the neuroendocrine system in the stress response cycle, including bodily regulation of digestion, the immune system, emotions and moods, sexuality and the inflow and outflow of energy. It serves as a central mechanism for the complex interactions of hormones, glands, and parts of the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). The HPA axis combined with corticosteroids produces the physiological response to stress. (Lange C, Zschucke E, Ising M, Uhr M, Bermpohl F, Adli M., 2013).
Experience-dependent brains get boosts by life-long learning and being socially active, among other acitivites
Not only do our brains sprout new neurons based on experiences we have (via #neurogenesis and #neuroplasticity) but specific activities help protect your brain. This brain growth-protection is based on the "use it or lose it" premises:
1. Never stop learning.
2. Immerse yourself in another culture.
3. Seek out tough "stretch" assignments.
4. Manage stress.
5. Have lots of friends.
I'll add to this list, exercise, seek novelty in new experiences, and have fun!
#Running and exercise in general prompts cellular changes that increase, among other things, #metabolic-action
"Exercise elicits gene expression changes that trigger structural and metabolic adaptations in skeletal muscle. We determined whether DNA methylation plays a role in exercise-induced gene expression. Whole genome methylation was decreased in skeletal muscle biopsies obtained from healthy sedentary men and women after acute exercise."
This blog is intended to explore ideas, educate, entertain and expand our thinking. Some posts speak to current trends in the brain sciences, neural benefits of exercise & sports, emotional intelligence and personal growth.