The international research team highlighted changes in the brain’s neural network and cortex structure that support the positive relationship between exercise in childhood and the preservation and promotion of future mental functioning.
The results published in the educational journal NeuroImage suggest that physical activity in childhood has higher cognitive functions in later life.
Participants who exercised at a young age performed better on cognitive tests outside of their current age. However, no such relationship was found between child labor and post-child training – suggesting that exercise during childhood is crucial for brain development and long-term cognitive health.
Researchers have shown that people who engage in physical activity during childhood (up to 12 years) have higher cognitive functions in later life. However, they were unable to find a link between mental functioning and post-childhood functioning. A positive relationship between childhood exercise and cognitive functioning was observed in the modular (* 1) division of brain networks, strengthening the link between hemispheric, greater cortical stiffness, lower levels of dendritic arborization and decreased population. During childhood, brain structure is affected by natural and experiential factors. It is thought that exercise at this time improves the development of the brain network and is associated with the maintenance and promotion of cognitive function in later life. Studies over the past decade have shown that exercise during childhood affects the development of cognitive functions.
Recent findings have shown that these child-rearing benefits are used for the preservation and promotion of cognitive functions in middle age and later in life. However, changes in brain function and the structure associated with this positive combination still need to be highlighted.
This study examined the relationship between childhood physical activity and mental functioning in later life, using MRI (imaging resonance imaging) to illuminate the actual and functional changes in the brain behind these relationships.
A team of researchers conducted a study of 214 participants aged 26 to 69 with the aim of investigating the relationship between child exercise and mental functioning, as well as functional and systemic neural networks and cortical structure. The child’s exercise was assessed with a questionnaire.
One aspect of mental functioning, response inhibition (the ability to suppress negative behavior), is measured using the Go / No-go function. Image data from MRI were analyzed and calculated the following: structural and functional connectivity (* 2), cortical stiffness, myelination, degree of neurite orientation distribution and index.
The brain is divided into 360 zones according to the Human Connectome Project (* 3), with functional and construction parameters found in each area. In the statistical analysis, the data obtained from the questionnaire were used as oddities. These include each participant’s educational background, parental education background, sibling population and exercise during adolescence.
First, the researchers analyzed the relationship between participants exercising during childhood and the performance of the Go / No-go task (false alarm rating).
They found that participants who practiced during childhood (up to 12 years) had lower levels of false alarms than those who did not (Figure 1). In addition, this association is available regardless of the age of the participant. However, no such relationship was found between work performance and post-child exercise.
Next, the research team investigated the link between structure and function in the brain related to Go / No-go performance of participants who exercised during childhood.