Moderate levels of exercise may increase the brain’s flexibility and improve learning, a new study suggests.

The visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information, loses the ability to “rewire” itself with age, making it more difficult for adults to recover from injuries and illness, said Claudia Lunghi, a neuroscientist at the University of Pisa and one of the study’s authors.

In a study in the journal Current Biology, she and Alessandro Sale asked 20 adults to watch a movie with one eye patched while relaxing in a chair. Later, the participants exercised on a stationary bike for 10-minute intervals while watching a movie.

When one eye is patched, the visual cortex compensates for the limited input by increasing its activity level. The researchers tested the imbalance in strength between the participants’ eyes after the movie — a measure of changeability in the visual cortex.

The differences in strength between the eyes were more pronounced after exercise, Dr. Lunghi and Dr. Sale found, suggests that exercise somehow increases the brain’s plasticity.

Source: The New York Times
December 7, 2015
By Sindya N. Bhanoo, photo courtesy of Shutterstock