A new study published today in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) reports that just 10 minutes of light exercise is sufficient to enhance memory and change connections in the brain. This study is the result of a collaboration between Dr. Michael Yassa, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences and Director of the UC Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and colleagues at the University of Tsukuba including Kazuya Suwabe, Kyeongho Byun and Professor Hideaki Soya.

The study pairs mild exercise with memory tests and brain imaging and finds that engaging in a 10-minute mild exercise session results in immediate improved performance on a memory discrimination task and increased functional connectivity between the hippocampus (a part of the brain known to be important for memory) and the cortex, compared to rest.

Though we have known that exercise improves memory and enhances hippocampus plasticity, this study sheds light on the intensity and duration of exercise necessary to produce these effects. In addition, the results help scientists to understand the neural mechanisms that may be responsible for the enhanced memory.

Professor Yassa and colleagues are expanding this work to older adults and those with early signs of dementia and hopes future studies will be able to answer questions related to how long these effects last and if this type of exercise is sufficient to reverse memory loss in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Click here to read the PNAS article.

Click here to read the UC Irvine Press Release.

Dr. Michael Yassa is Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. He is Director of the UC Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the UC Irvine Brian Initiative. Contact Dr. Yassa by email here.


The Guardian (9/24/18) – 10 minutes of exercise a day improves memory