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Publication Detail

Title: Aerobic Fitness Linked to Cortical Brain Development in Adolescent Males: Preliminary Findings Suggest a Possible Role of BDNF Genotype.

Authors: Herting, Megan M; Keenan, Madison F; Nagel, Bonnie J

Published In Front Hum Neurosci, (2016)

Abstract: Aerobic exercise has been shown to impact brain structure and cognition in children and adults. Exercise-induced activation of a growth protein known as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is thought to contribute to such relationships. To date, however, no study has examined how aerobic fitness relates to cortical brain structure during development and if BDNF genotype moderates these relationships. Using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and FreeSurfer, the current study examined how aerobic fitness relates to volume, thickness, and surface area in 34 male adolescents, 15 to 18 years old. Moreover, we examined if the val66met BDNF genotype moderated these relationships. We hypothesized that aerobic fitness would relate to greater thickness and volumes in frontal, parietal, and motor regions, and that these relationships would be less robust in individuals carrying a Met allele, since this genotype leads to lower BDNF expression. We found that aerobic fitness positively related to right rostral middle frontal cortical volume in all adolescents. However, results also showed BDNF genotype moderated the relationship between aerobic fitness and bilateral medial precuneus surface area, with a positive relationship seen in individuals with the Val/Val allele, but no relationship detected in those adolescents carrying a Met allele. Lastly, using self-reported levels of aerobic activity, we found that higher-fit adolescents showed larger right medial pericalcarine, right cuneus and left precuneus surface areas as compared to their low-fit peers. Our findings suggest that aerobic fitness is linked to cortical brain development in male adolescents, and that more research is warranted to determine how an individual's genes may influence these relationships.

PubMed ID: 27445764 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication

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