BDNF, Hippocampus. Are those in your vocabulary? Perhaps they should be. Brain Derived Neurotrophic Hormone supports the survival of existing and the formation of new neurons in the brain, especially the hippocampus. The hippocampus - the area of the brain where learning and memory take place. Makes sense that BDNF is good for learning and memory, so how do we get BDNF?
Think maybe that's important for us? How 'bout our kids and teens? You Betcha.
It has long been a cliché that muscle bulk doesn’t equate to intelligence. In fact, most of the science to date about activity and brain health has focused on the role of endurance exercise in improving our brain functioning. Aerobic exercise causes a steep spike in blood movement to the brain, an action that some researchers have speculated might be necessary for the creation of new brain cells, or neurogenesis. Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown, in mice and men, to lead to neurogenesis in those portions of the brain associated with memory and thinking, providing another compelling reason to get out at lunchtime and run.
Since weight training doesn’t cause the same spike, few researchers have thought that it would have a similar effect. But recent studies intimate otherwise. Several studies involve animals. It’s not easy, of course, to induce a mouse or a lab rat to lift weights, so the experimenters have to develop clever approximations of resistance training to see what impact adding muscle and strength has on an animal’s brain. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in November, researchers from Brazilsecured weights to the tails of a group of rats and had them climb a ladder five sessions a week. Other rats on the same schedule ran on a treadmill, and a third group just sat around. After eight weeks, the running rats had much higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (B.D.N.F.), a growth factor that is thought to help spark neurogenesis, than the sedentary rats. So did the rats with weights tied to their tails. The weight-bearing rats, like the runners, did well on tests of rodent learning and memory, like rapidly negotiating a water maze. Both endurance and weight training seemed to make the rats smarter.