Send to

Choose Destination
Behav Brain Res. 2014 Feb 1;259:302-12. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.11.023. Epub 2013 Nov 21.

Interaction between serum BDNF and aerobic fitness predicts recognition memory in healthy young adults.

Author information

Department of Psychology and Center for Memory & Brain, Boston University, 2 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Exercise and Health Sciences Department, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125, USA.
Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition, Boston University School of Medicine, 85 East Newton Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Department of Psychology and Center for Memory & Brain, Boston University, 2 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA 02215, USA; Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, 650 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA. Electronic address:


Convergent evidence from human and non-human animal studies suggests aerobic exercise and increased aerobic capacity may be beneficial for brain health and cognition. It is thought growth factors may mediate this putative relationship, particularly by augmenting plasticity mechanisms in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory. Among these factors, glucocorticoids, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hormones that have considerable and diverse physiological importance, are thought to effect normal and exercise-induced hippocampal plasticity. Despite these predictions, relatively few published human studies have tested hypotheses that relate exercise and fitness to the hippocampus, and none have considered the potential links to all of these hormonal components. Here we present cross-sectional data from a study of recognition memory; serum BDNF, cortisol, IGF-1, and VEGF levels; and aerobic capacity in healthy young adults. We measured circulating levels of these hormones together with performance on a recognition memory task, and a standard graded treadmill test of aerobic fitness. Regression analyses demonstrated BDNF and aerobic fitness predict recognition memory in an interactive manner. In addition, IGF-1 was positively associated with aerobic fitness, but not with recognition memory. Our results may suggest an exercise adaptation-related change in the BDNF dose-response curve that relates to hippocampal memory.


ACSM; American College of Sports Medicine; BDNF; BMI; Cardiovascular fitness; DMS; ELISA; Hippocampus; IGF-1; MTL; OLS; RER; RERmax; Recognition memory; SMT; VEGF; body mass index; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; delayed matching-to-sample; enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; insulin-like growth factor-1; max; maximum observed respiratory exchange ratio; medial temporal lobes; ordinary least squares; peak; peak rate of oxygen consumption in mL per kg of body weight per min, measured during test; rate of maximal oxygen consumption in mL per kg of body weight per min; respiratory exchange ratio; subsequent memory test; vascular endothelial growth factor

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center