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Neuroscience. 2011 Oct 27;194:84-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.07.071. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

Physical exercise during adolescence versus adulthood: differential effects on object recognition memory and brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels.

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1
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.

Abstract

It is well established that physical exercise can enhance hippocampal-dependent forms of learning and memory in laboratory animals, commensurate with increases in hippocampal neural plasticity (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF] mRNA/protein, neurogenesis, long-term potentiation [LTP]). However, very little is known about the effects of exercise on other, non-spatial forms of learning and memory. In addition, there has been little investigation of the duration of the effects of exercise on behavior or plasticity. Likewise, few studies have compared the effects of exercising during adulthood versus adolescence. This is particularly important since exercise may capitalize on the peak of neural plasticity observed during adolescence, resulting in a different pattern of behavioral and neurobiological effects. The present study addressed these gaps in the literature by comparing the effects of 4 weeks of voluntary exercise (wheel running) during adulthood or adolescence on novel object recognition and BDNF levels in the perirhinal cortex (PER) and hippocampus (HP). Exercising during adulthood improved object recognition memory when rats were tested immediately after 4 weeks of exercise, an effect that was accompanied by increased BDNF levels in PER and HP. When rats were tested again 2 weeks after exercise ended, the effects of exercise on recognition memory and BDNF levels were no longer present. Exercising during adolescence had a very different pattern of effects. First, both exercising and non-exercising rats could discriminate between novel and familiar objects immediately after the exercise regimen ended; furthermore there was no group difference in BDNF levels. Two or four weeks later, however, rats that had previously exercised as adolescents could still discriminate between novel and familiar objects, while non-exercising rats could not. Moreover, the formerly exercising rats exhibited higher levels of BDNF in PER compared to HP, while the reverse was true in the non-exercising rats. These findings reveal a novel interaction between exercise, development, and medial temporal lobe memory systems.

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