Physical exercise influences neurobiological processes and cognitive abilities. For example, it increases the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein responsible for maintaining synaptic connections as well as neuronal development, growth, and survival. The increase of BDNF promotes brain plasticity and has been shown to aid recovery from brain injuries, as well as to improve cognitive function in older adults. Recent studies with well-exercised rats showed strong, positive correlations between BDNF levels, cognitive performance in maze tasks, and recovery from fluid-percussion injuries to the hippocampus. Currently researchers are focusing on whether exercise prevents neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
"Exercise, Brain Plasticity, and Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factors,"
Intuition: The BYU Undergraduate Journal of Psychology: Vol. 10
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/intuition/vol10/iss1/3