Aerobic Exercise Preserves Brain Volume and Improves Cognitive Function


Aerobic exercise intervention could preserve or possibly even improve brain volumes in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) compared to a stretching control group, according to research being presented today at RSNA 2016.

Laura D. Baker, PhD, from Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM) in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues acquired longitudinal MR images for 35 adults with MCI. Brain MRI was acquired at baseline and sixth months later after the exercise intervention. High-resolution structural anatomic T1-weighted images of each subject were collected from which the deformation field during the six-month period was estimated.

For both aerobic and stretching exercise groups, volumetric increases were observed in most regions of the gray matter (p<0.05 with FDR correction). However, right posterior corona radiata showed volumetric contraction in stretching control. Different volumetric increases were observed between groups around the genu of corpus callosum, right middle temporal gyrus and bilateral superior frontal gyri, showing higher volumetric expansions.

“The proposed biomechanical metrics appear to be sensitive biomarkers for evaluating interventions in subjects with MCI. These structural biomarkers could be used for classification of MCI and Alzheimer’s disease via machine learning algorithms, which could improve the sensitivity and specificity of neurodegenerative disease prognosis and diagnosis,” the authors write.

Jeongchul Kim, PhD, co-investigator on the study from WFSM, presented the research during the RSNA annual meeting.