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Physical Exercise and Brain Blood Flow

Posted Jan 15 2009 7:42pm

By Gregory Kellett, a cognitive neuroscience researcher at SFSU and UCSF, and science writer forLumos Labs.

Recent findings have linked exercising regularly with increased cerebral blood flow and a greater number of blood vessels in the brain.

While it has been shown in the past that aerobic exercise might reduce cognitive decline, this study demonstrated a possible explanation: changes in the brain’s blood vessels and blood flow.

The researchers recruited 12 healthy adults, age 60 to 76. Six of the adults participated in aerobic exercise for three or more hours per week over 10 years, and six exercised less than one hour per week. All of the volunteers underwent MRI to determine cerebral blood flow and MR angiography to depict blood vessels in the brain.

Compared to the inactive group, the people who exercised regularly had more small blood vessels carrying blood through the brain, and the blood flowed in a more normal pattern.

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