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Expert GuidanceMove Your Mind

Move Your Mind

From The Wake Up: Neuroscience researcher Dr. Yewande Pearse explains how exercise is one of the best ways to promote the generation of new neurons in the brain.

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Now, you probably know that exercise benefits your body in many different ways, from strengthening your muscles to losing weight. You also may have found working out to be a great activity to improve your mood, but working out benefits us in another lesser-known way. Exercise has been found to promote the growth of new cells in our brains. (upbeat lively music) I'm Dr. Yewande Pearse, a Neuroscience Researcher, who studies the many different functions of the brain. It used to be commonly thought that we're born with a finite number of cells in our brain, but fairly recently, studies have found that our brains, actually, have the ability to create new neurons throughout our lives, through a process called neurogenesis. Now, there are still a number of things we still don't know about this process because we can't exactly peek into a healthy living person's brain, but thanks to a number studies in mice, which are remarkably similar to humans in terms of brain development, a direct relationship between physical activity and neurogenesis has been found. Today, we'll be talking more about the fascinating ways exercise is good for our minds. It's worth noting that there are a number of environmental factors that have been found to impact neurogenesis in both positive and negative ways. Learning, exercise, and a healthy diet, have all been linked to neurogenesis. Inversely, things like stress, sleep deprivation, and a poor diet have been found to lead to a decline in neurogenic activity. But in terms of being easily accessible and free, exercise is one of the best ways you can promote the creation of neurons in the brain. Exercise is also a great way to increase activity throughout the brain, which triggers the formation of new connections. This is also extremely important, because new neurons on their own are fairly useless until they get woven into your brain's inner circuitry. Recent studies have found that these new neurons are mostly found in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for helping us learn and remember new things. It also plays a big role in regulating our emotions. One of the first studies looking at the impact of exercise on adult neurogenesis, showed that mice who had a wheel in their cage, had significant more neurons than mice that did not. Since then, hippocampal neurogenesis in rodents, as a function of exercise, has been extensively demonstrated and replicated. Is estimated that we produce around 700 new neurons in this area a day. So, by the time we are 50, all the cells in our hippocampus have been fully replaced. This is great news because a number of neurodegenerative diseases that affect our memory like Alzheimer's or dementia, are related to a natural decline in the hippocampus as we age. Interestingly, studies have also shown, that using drugs to replicate the physiological changes triggered by exercise, first improve our memory in the same way. Because this field of research is still...


TypeExpert Guidance
Duration4 min

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