How Running Makes You Smarter

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Fitness, Running
Tags: , , ,

Run and BrainCould running faster make you a better learner? Maybe—but one thing’s for sure: They both use the same brain waves, according to a new study in PloS ONE.

Researchers at UCLA monitored learning-related brain waves called gamma rhythms in mice, and found that the waves got stronger as the mice ran faster.

When we learn, certain brain chemicals are released that speed up the gamma rhythms, explains lead author Mayank Mehta, Ph.D., a neuroscience professor at UCLA. The same chemicals may be released when we run, though Mehta says more research is needed.

The researchers hope the spike they saw means that running can boost your brainpower, but they’ll need a little more time in the lab to make sure. Previous research does show that regular exercise improves your cognitive skills and lowers your risk for age-related mental decline. A 2007 study in Neurobiology of Memory and Learning found that participants learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster after high-intensity exercise.

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