News Release

Running rats remember better

Early life interventions that increase physical activity could help delay onset of neurodegenerative disorders, a study in rats suggests

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Society for Neuroscience

The Neurogenic Reserve Hypothesis

image: Early-life stimulation increases neurogenesis, leading to a reserve pool of cells that can persist into old age and contribute to conserved cognitive function. view more 

Credit: Merkely, Ch.M. and Wojtowicz, J.M. Role of Adult Neurogenesis in Learning and Memory. In: "Adult Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus: Health, Psychopathology and Brain Disease". Ed. J. Canales, Academic Press & Elsevier, Chapt, 4, pp.57-73, 2016.

Young rats with access to a running wheel show improved memory later in life and increased activity of neurons generated in adulthood, finds a study published in eNeuro. The results raise the possibility that exercise early in life may help to protect against age-related cognitive decline.

Martin Wojtowicz and colleagues found that six-weeks of voluntary running, beginning at one month of age in rats, was sufficient to induce a long-term effect on learning and memory of a fear response that depends on newly generated neurons in the hippocampus in adulthood. They also found that the activity of the adult-born neurons was enhanced compared to those acquired during development and to those of rats housed in a standard cage without a running wheel.

The findings are consistent with the idea of cognitive reserve, whereby the brain draws on enriching experiences from youth to compensate for functional declines as a result of age or disease. Early life interventions that increase physical activity may therefore help to build up this reserve, potentially delaying the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.


Article: Early-Age Running Enhances Activity of Adult-Born Dentate Granule Neurons Following Learning in Rats


Corresponding author: Martin Wojtowicz (University of Toronto, Canada),

About eNeuro

eNeuro is an online, open-access journal published by the Society for Neuroscience. Established in 2014, eNeuro publishes a wide variety of content, including research articles, short reports, reviews, commentaries and opinions.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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