Physical Exercise Keeps the Brain Connected: Biking Increases White Matter Integrity in Patients With Schizophrenia and Healthy Controls

Investor logo

Warning

This publication doesn't include Faculty of Medicine. It includes Central European Institute of Technology. Official publication website can be found on muni.cz.

Authors

SVÁTKOVÁ Alena MANDL Rene C. W. SCHEEWE Thomas W. CAHN Wiepke KAHN Rene S. HULSHOFF POL Hilleke E.

Year of publication 2015
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Schizophrenia Bulletin
MU Faculty or unit

Central European Institute of Technology

Citation
Web http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/03/30/schbul.sbv033.abstract
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbv033
Field Psychiatry, sexuology
Keywords connectivity; diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; longitudinal; physical exercise; schizophrenia
Description It has been shown that learning a new skill leads to structural changes in the brain. However, it is unclear whether it is the acquisition or continuous practicing of the skill that causes this effect and whether brain connectivity of patients with schizophrenia can benefit from such practice. We examined the effect of 6 months exercise on a stationary bicycle on the brain in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Biking is an endemic skill in the Netherlands and thus offers an ideal situation to disentangle the effects of learning vs practice. The 33 participating patients with schizophrenia and 48 healthy individuals were assigned to either one of two conditions, ie, physical exercise or life-as-usual, balanced for diagnosis. Diffusion tensor imaging brain scans were made prior to and after intervention. We demonstrate that irrespective of diagnosis regular physical exercise of an overlearned skill, such as bicycling, significantly increases the integrity, especially of motor functioning related, white matter fiber tracts whereas life-as-usual leads to a decrease in fiber integrity. Our findings imply that exercise of an overlearned physical skill improves brain connectivity in patients and healthy individuals. This has important implications for understanding the effect of fitness programs on the brain in both healthy subjects and patients with schizophrenia. Moreover, the outcome may even apply to the nonphysical realm.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info