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Acute moderate exercise improves mnemonic discrimination in young adults


Increasing evidence suggests that regular moderate exercise increases neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus and improves memory functions in both humans and animals. The DG is known to play a role in pattern separation, which is the ability to discriminate among similar experiences, a fundamental component of episodic memory. While long-term voluntary exercise improves pattern separation, there is little evidence of alterations in DG function after an acute exercise session. Our previous studies showing acute moderate exercise-enhanced DG activation in rats, and acute moderate exercise-enhanced prefrontal activation and executive function in humans, led us to postulate that acute moderate exercise may also activate the hippocampus, including more specifically the DG, thus improving pattern separation. We thus investigated the effects of a 10-min moderate exercise (50% V̇O2peak ) session, the recommended intensity for health promotion, on mnemonic discrimination (a behavioral index of pattern separation) in young adults. An acute bout of moderate exercise improved mnemonic discrimination performance in high similarity lures. These results support our hypothesis that acute moderate exercise improves DG-mediated pattern separation in humans, proposing a useful human acute-exercise model for analyzing the neuronal substrate underlying acute and regular exercise-enhanced episodic memory based on the hippocampus. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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