Hippocampal and non-hippocampal correlates of physically active lifestyle and their relation to episodic memory in older adults

Tamir Eisenstein, Nir Giladi, Talma Hendler, Ofer Havakuk, Yulia Lerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aging is associated with compromised neurocognition. While aerobic exercise has been linked with cognitive resilience, findings regarding its relationship with brain morphology are inconsistent. Furthermore, the biological underpinnings of the relationship between aerobic activity and memory in the aging human brain are unclear. To investigate these issues, we examined hippocampal and non-hippocampal structural correlates of aerobically active lifestyle and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults. We then examined structural pathways which may potentially mediate the association between active lifestyle and memory. Fifty participants (aged 65–80) underwent structural and diffusion MRI, memory evaluation, were examined for active lifestyle and cardiorespiratory fitness. Morphological features of the hippocampus and fornix, white matter lesions, and brain atrophy were assessed. Active lifestyle and cardiorespiratory fitness correlated with all neurocognitive measures. An exploratory mediation analysis revealed hippocampal and white matter lesions pathways linking active lifestyle and cardiorespiratory fitness with memory. Our results support a neuroprotective role of aerobic exercise on the aging brain and suggest plausible morphological pathways that may underlie the relationship between aerobic exercise and memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-112
Number of pages13
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Volume109
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Hippocampus
  • Neuroimaging
  • White matter lesions
  • memory

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