The Effects of Acute Aerobic Exercise on the Primary Motor Cortex
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The effect of aerobic exercise on primary motor cortical excitability is a relevant area of interest for both motor learning and motor rehabilitation. Transient excitability changes that may follow an exercise session are a necessary precursor to more lasting neuroplastic changes. While the number of studies is limited, research suggests that a session of aerobic exercise can create an ideal environment for the early induction of plasticity. Potential mechanisms include the upregulation of neurotransmitter activity, altered cerebral metabolism and cortisol levels, and increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor. While there is considerable evidence that chronic physical activity positively impacts brain health and function, studies examining cortical excitability changes and motor performance after a single session of exercise are lacking. Further research is required to determine the clinical utility and feasibility of aerobic exercise.
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