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Brain Res. 2001 Feb 9;891(1-2):168-75.

Exercise increases metabolic capacity in the motor cortex and striatum, but not in the hippocampus.

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Department of Psychology, SUNY Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA.


Acute bouts of exercise have been shown to produce transient increases in regional cerebral glucose utilization, oxygen uptake, and cerebral blood flow in motor cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not chronic exercise will cause long-term metabolic plasticity in brain structures activated during physical activity. The activity of cytochrome oxidase (COX), is coupled to the production of ATP, and reflects long-term plasticity in metabolic capacity. The present study examined whether or not 6 months of voluntary exercise would increase COX activity in the striatum, sensorimotor cortex, and three hippocampal subfields. Five-month-old, female Long-Evans hooded rats were randomly assigned to a control or exercise condition. Exercising rats had running wheels attached to their home cages. After the training period, fresh brains were rapidly frozen and sectioned with a cryostat. COX activity was measured using COX histochemical methods and optical densitometry. Rats in the exercise condition had significantly higher optical density in the hindlimb and forelimb motor cortices (18%, P<0.01) and dorsolateral caudate putamen (17%, P<0.01), but not in the ventrolateral caudate putamen or any subfield of the hippocampus. Although exercise is believed to increase neuronal activity in the hippocampus, motor cortex and striatum, only limb representations in the motor cortex and striatum increase bioenergetic capacity after regular exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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