A team of researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found regular physical activity has widespread, positive effects on a child's developing brain-their own unique connectome.
Credit: National Science Foundation
I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
What is a "connectome?" No, it's not a futuristic sports arena in a sci-fi film. But you'll see how physical activity does play a role in shaping it.
The connectome is the architecture of the brain's neural circuitry -- our brainprint -- defining how it functions and its capacity to adapt to changes in the environment.
A team of researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School -- with support from NSF found regular physical activity has widespread, positive effects on a child's developing brain -- their own unique connectome.
The team utilized data from the National Institutes of Health Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study and analyzed neuroimaging data of some 6,000 nine and ten-year-olds.
The researchers found that physical activity -- of any kind -- was associated with more efficiently organized, flexible, and robust brain networks. These improved networks process information from the outside world more efficiently and better support performance in cognitive tasks.
Conversely, when negatively affected, they can lead to risk behaviors and impaired cognitive function that can affect someone for a lifetime. A preteen who is active for at least 60 minutes, several times a week, reaps significant cerebral benefits.
So, the next time you hear a crowd erupt in a victorious roar, it just might be your child's connectome -- celebrating the merits of simple exercise.
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