Exercise-Induced Neuroplasticity: A Mechanistic Model and Prospects for Promoting Plasticity
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Aerobic exercise improves cognitive and motor function by inducing neural changes detected using molecular, cellular, and systems level neuroscience techniques. This review unifies the knowledge gained across various neuroscience techniques to provide a comprehensive profile of the neural mechanisms that mediate exercise-induced neuroplasticity. Using a model of exercise-induced neuroplasticity, this review emphasizes the sequence of neural events that accompany exercise, and ultimately promote changes in human performance. This is achieved by differentiating between neuroplasticity induced by acute versus chronic aerobic exercise. Furthermore, this review emphasizes experimental considerations that influence the opportunity to observe exercise-induced neuroplasticity in humans. These include modifiable factors associated with the exercise intervention and nonmodifiable factors such as biological sex, ovarian hormones, genetic variations, and fitness level. To maximize the beneficial effects of exercise in health, disease, and following injury, future research should continue to explore the mechanisms that mediate exercise-induced neuroplasticity. This review identifies some fundamental gaps in knowledge that may serve to guide future research in this area.
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