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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;67(2):133-43. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.193.

Hippocampal plasticity in response to exercise in schizophrenia.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, The Saarland University Hospital, Homburg, Germany. pajonk@klinik-dr-fontheim.de

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Hippocampal volume is lower than expected in patients with schizophrenia; however, whether this represents a fixed deficit is uncertain. Exercise is a stimulus to hippocampal plasticity.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether hippocampal volume would increase with exercise in humans and whether this effect would be related to improved aerobic fitness.

DESIGN:

Randomized controlled study.

SETTING:

Patients attending a day hospital program or an outpatient clinic.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:

Male patients with chronic schizophrenia and matched healthy subjects.

INTERVENTIONS:

Aerobic exercise training (cycling) and playing table football (control group) for a period of 3 months.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Magnetic resonance imaging of the hippocampus. Secondary outcome measures were magnetic resonance spectroscopy, neuropsychological (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, Corsi block-tapping test), and clinical (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale) features.

RESULTS:

Following exercise training, relative hippocampal volume increased significantly in patients (12%) and healthy subjects (16%), with no change in the nonexercise group of patients (-1%). Changes in hippocampal volume in the exercise group were correlated with improvements in aerobic fitness measured by change in maximum oxygen consumption (r = 0.71; P = .003). In the schizophrenia exercise group (but not the controls), change in hippocampal volume was associated with a 35% increase in the N-acetylaspartate to creatine ratio in the hippocampus. Finally, improvement in test scores for short-term memory in the combined exercise and nonexercise schizophrenia group was correlated with change in hippocampal volume (r = 0.51; P < .05).

CONCLUSION:

These results indicate that in both healthy subjects and patients with schizophrenia hippocampal volume is plastic in response to aerobic exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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