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A collaborative study, led by Cambridge Neuroscientists, demonstrates that running stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis and improves spatial pattern separation

A collaborative study conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge and the National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, has shown that mice with unlimited access to a running wheel (averaging 15 miles of running per day) demonstrate increased performance in a spatial pattern separation memory test when compared with more sedentary control mice. Brain tissue taken from the rodents also showed that the ‘running mice' had grown fresh grey matter during the experiment: analysis of the hippocampal formation’s dentate gyrus revealed 6,000 new brain cells per cubic millimetre in this region. These findings suggest that the addition of newly born neurons may bolster dentate gyrus-mediated encoding of fine spatial distinctions.

Dr. Tim Bussey (Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge) senior author of the study commented to the Guardian:

"We know exercise can be good for healthy brain function, but this work provides us with a mechanism for the effect".

This study was published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the National States of America (PNAS) and published on-line on the 19th January, 2010. Click here to access the research article.  Please click here to access the Guardian article reporting this finding.

Posted on 23/01/2010

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