November 18, 2008
Exercise Boosts Brain Cell Growth In Middle Aged Mice

Muscle exercise might be good for your brain. Exercise boosts brain stem cell generation in both middle-aged and young mice.

BETHESDA, Md. (Nov. 18, 2008) − A new study confirms that exercise can reverse the age-related decline in the production of neural stem cells in the hippocampus of the mouse brain, and suggests that this happens because exercise restores a brain chemical which promotes the production and maturation of new stem cells.


The researchers trained young (3 months), adult (7 months), early middle-aged (9 months), middle-aged (13 months) and old (24 months) mice to run a treadmill for up to one hour a day.

The study tracked neurogenesis, age, exercise, serum corticosterone levels and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB levels in the hippocampus. The researchers focused on middle age as a critical stage for the decline of neurogenesis in the mice.

As expected, the study found that neurogenesis drops off sharply in middle-aged mice. For example, the number of neural progenitor and mitotic (dividing) cells in the hippocampus of middle-aged mice was only 5% of that observed in the young mice.

The researchers also found that exercise significantly slows down the loss of new nerve cells in the middle-aged mice. They found that production of neural stem cells improved by approximately 200% compared to the middle-aged mice that did not exercise. In addition, the survival of new nerve cells increased by 170% and growth by 190% compared to the sedentary middle-aged mice. Exercise also significantly enhanced stem cell production and maturation in the young mice. In fact, exercise produced a stronger effect in younger mice compared to the older mice.

What I wonder: once we can replace aged neural stem cells with younger stem cells will we hit a problem with excessive crowding of neurons and other brain cells as the reproduction of neural stem cells uses up all available space?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 November 18 11:05 PM  Brain Aging

Brett Bellmore said at November 20, 2008 5:32 PM:

There are already techniques for stretching long bones, I suppose they could be adapted for the skull, to make more space. In fact, it might be an interesting experiment to see what happens if you *give* a brain more space.

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright