Brain Fitness, Neurogenesis, And Social Contact

Various brain fitness studies have shown that aerobic exercise stimulates neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells). So researchers from Princeton University were surprised recently to discover thbrain fitness rat exercisingat rats set to a brain fitness training regime with regular treadmill exercise showed no detectable neurogenesis. What gave?

Comparing their method to previous brain fitness studies involving mice they found a possible but puzzling difference. While the neurogenetical mice had been kept in groups, the rats in the Princeton brain fitness study had been confined to solitary. Repeating their experiment with this in mind, the researchers studied the neurogenesis impact for solitary rats, rats in pairs, and rats in groups. The results showed that rats with social contact experienced rapid and robust growth of new brain cells, while solitary mice didn’t.

Rats, like humans, are social animals. Keeping them apart leads to stress. And other brain fitness studies have clearly connected stress to impaired neurogenesis. So, one plausible theory would say that loneliness inhibits brain fitness, or, conversely, that the combination of physical exercise and social contact lead to enhanced brain fitness.

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