#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.
#Neuropsychoanalysis; a convergence of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, fMRI studies show internal conflict mental states
By: Lisa Lukianoff, Psy.D.
Discoveries in science promote advancements in fields of study. Case-in-point the psychological sciences field is inextricably linked with discoveries in neuroscience.
Neuropsychoanalysis, the clinical practice, and study of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, is an emerging field propelling research in the neuropsychoanalytic study of psychological states from a brain science perspective.
To study the neural patterns of psychodynamic conflict, scientists Kehyayan, Best, Schmeing, Axmacher, & Kessler (2013) used fMRI scans to measure internal states. The scans revealed psychodynamic conflict in the anterior cingulate cortex and in the emotion-processing regions of the brain.
The concept of “neuropsychoanalysis” joins together psychoanalysis and neuroscience to allow for psychoanalytically informed neuroscience. “…if a theme comprised in the subject’s conflict is touched in a real-life situation, reactions on the behavioral, cognitive, and physiological level should be expected, that call for the regulation of cognitions, impulses and, most importantly, emotions”, (2013).
Scientists Panksepp & Solms (2012) state that the study and idea of neuropsychoanalysis, which began in the 1990’s, arose from a clinical need to reconcile psychoanalytic and neuroscientific perspectives on emerging discoveries. The overarching goal was to better understand the neurobiological origins of emotions and psychiatric dysfunction. The focus is on brain functions, “Neuropsychoanalysis is especially interested in brain functions that govern instinctual life, in particular, those that are foundational for understanding subjectivity, agency, and intentionality”, (p. 1, 2012).
Ideally, the synthesis of these fields will produce a greater understanding of the neurological brain affective networks involved in psychological states and an understanding of higher cognitive functions.
“Researchers in this field assimilate the best conceptual tools and clinical observations from the pre-neuroscientific era that sought to understand the complexities of human mentation in their own right, and encourage their integrated use with all the new and old neuroscience techniques needed for a fuller understanding of mind than academic psychology and neuroscience has yet achieved”, (Panksepp & Solms, p. 3, 2012).
Based on these findings psychodynamic conflicts viewed by corresponding fMRI studies provide an investigative technique to analyze conflict processing with neuroimaging.
Kehyayan, A., Best, K., Schmeing, J. B., Axmacher, N., & Kessler, H. (2013). Neural activity during free association to conflict–related sentences. Frontiers in human neuroscience. Volume 7(705). Doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00705.
Panksepp, J. & Solms, M. (2012). What is neuropsychoanalysis? Clinically relevant studies of the minded brain. Trends in cognitive sciences. Volume 16(1): pp. 6-8. Doi:10.1016/j.tics.2011.11.005.
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.