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Behav Brain Res. 1991 May 15;43(2):115-23.

Physical activity effects on hippocampal and parietal cortical cholinergic function and spatial learning in F344 rats.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas, Austin 78712.


In the present investigation, the effects of physical activity on hippocampal cholinergic function, parietal cortical cholinergic function, and spatial memory were examined in F344 rats. Single bouts of physical activity elevated hippocampal and cortical high affinity choline uptake, whereas chronic physical activity significantly reduced only hippocampal high affinity choline uptake (HACU) and elevated muscarinic (QNB) receptor density. Three weeks prior to the end of the 14-week chronic treadmill running protocol, a group of chronic-run rats and their non-run controls were tested on a stringent version of Whishaw's place learning-set task. Chronic-run rats exhibited enhanced performance on the spatial task by significantly reduced second trial latencies and elevated first and second trial proximity ratio scores. Chronic-run spatial memory tested rats also showed enhanced hippocampal HACU and muscarinic receptor binding. These data indicate that chronic physical activity improves spatial learning performance. This improvement may be due, in part, to a chronic running-induced enhancement of hippocampal cholinergic functioning.

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