The Exercise for Brain Health (E4BH) Laboratory is focused on understanding how exercise and physical activity, from single sessions of exercise to long-term exercise training, affect human brain function and mental health. The E4BH Lab uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological testing to examine brain function in both younger and older adults. Dr. Smith, his team of investigators, and collaborators are interested in the potential efficacy for exercise to affect brain function and memory in healthy older adults at increased genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as in patients diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). In addition, the E4BH Lab investigates the mood enhancing effects of physical activity, and the effects of exercise on neural networks that may promote antidepressant and anxiety reducing effects.
Exercise for Brain Health with Increased Genetic Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
- Examine the effects of 6-months aerobic exercise training on brain structure, brain function and cognition using MRI in healthy older adults with low and greater genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Examine the effects of 6-months aerobic exercise training on conduit artery function and its correlation with cognitive function
- Examine the effects of 6-months aerobic exercise training on circulating angiogenic cells
Study design: Participants will be randomly assigned to either 6-months treadmill walking or toning and stretching group. Before and after the intervention, participants will undergo exercise stress test, physical function test, neuropsychological test batteries and MRI scan. Participant’s vascular function will be also measured and their blood sample will be collected to assess genotype and angiogenic cells for its correlation with functional and structural changes in the brain and cognitive function.
Funded by the NIH-National Institute on Aging.
Acute Exercise and Brain Function
Purpose: To assess the effects of moderate intensity exercise on structural/functional changes in the brain measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological assessments.
Study Design: Participants completed either 30-min exercise or rest conditions (using a within-subjects, counterbalanced design) followed by a multi-modal MRI sessions and neuropsychological battery tests on different days. Sleep was measured using a wrist-worn actigraphy for at least three days prior to the first experimental session.
- Won, J., Alfini, A. J., Weiss, L. R., Michelson, C. S., Callow, D. D., Ranadive, S. M., Gentili, R. J., & Smith, J. C. (2019). Semantic Memory Activation After Acute Exercise in Healthy Older Adults. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 1-12.
Primary results: Greater semantic memory-related activation (Famous>Non-Famous) was found in the middle frontal, inferior temporal, middle temporal, fusiform gyri, and bilateral hippocampus.
Acute Exercise and Long-Term Memory
Purpose: To determine the time-dependent effects of acute exercise on long-term memory in healthy young adults.
Study Design: Participants completed a 20-minute session of “hard” cycling exercise either before or after encoding emotionally arousing (pleasant and unpleasant) and non-arousing pictures. After a one-week delay, participants returned for a recognition memory task.
Manuscript in preparation.