New research has found that exercise can promote neuronal activity in the hippocampus, which is responsible for the storage of long-term memory. The study suggests that chemical signals released by contracting muscles may trigger a signaling pathway that boosts brain function and may have therapeutic potential for treating neurological disorders. The study also highlights the critical role of astrocytes in regulating the activity of neurons, suggesting that future research should consider the interaction between muscles, astrocytes, and neurons.
The study’s lead author, Ki Yun Lee, pointed out that the research provides new insights into how chemical signals from contracting muscles can accelerate the maturation of hippocampal neurons and promote the formation of neuronal networks. Lee also highlighted the potential implications for treating neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, which is caused by hyperexcitability of neurons.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist and director of research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health, commented that the study is the first to try to get at the underlying mechanism by which physical activity or exercise may affect the brain. He added that the overall finding is that hippocampal cells that are central to brain networks mediating cognitive function and memory are affected by the muscle cells via astrocytes which are important support cells in the brain.
While the study’s findings are promising, more research is needed to verify the results and to determine the most effective types of exercise, frequency, and duration. However, the study supports the growing body of evidence that exercise is not only beneficial for physical health but also for cognitive health. The study’s findings may also inform the development of exercise regimens that are specifically designed to target the interaction between muscles, astrocytes, and neurons for optimal cognitive health.