Exercising Our Brains: How Physical Activity Impacts Synaptic Plasticity in the Dentate Gyrus
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Exercise that engages the cardiovascular system has a myriad of effects on the body; however, we usually do not give much consideration to the benefits it may have for our minds. An increasing body of evidence suggests that exercise can have some remarkable effects on the brain. In this article, we will introduce how exercise can impact the capacity for neurons in the brain to communicate with one another. To properly convey this information, we will first briefly introduce the field of synaptic plasticity and then examine how the introduction of exercise to the experimental setting can actually alter the basic properties of synaptic plasticity in the brain. Next, we will examine some of the candidate physiological processes that might underlay these alterations. Finally, we will close by noting that, taken together, this data points toward our brains being dynamic systems that are in a continual state of flux and that physical exercise may help us to maximize the performance of both our body and our minds.
KeywordsExercise Neurogenesis Synaptic plasticity Vasculature Neurotrophins NMDA Serotonin
This work was funded by grants from NSERC, CIHR, and ABMRF to BRC. BRC is a Michael Smith Foundation Senior Scholar. BDE is a CIHR graduate scholarship recipient. JS is a UVIC graduate scholarship recipient. AKT holds a University Graduate Fellowship, a Pacifica Family Addiction Foundation Geoffrey Lane Nanson Scholarship and The Pacific Century Graduate Scholarship at UBC.
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