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Forced and voluntary exercises equally improve spatial learning and memory and hippocampal BDNF levels
Multiple evidence suggest the importance of exercise for cognitive and brain functions. Few studies however, compared the behavioral and neural adaptations to force versus voluntary exercise training. Therefore, spatial learning and memory formation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were examined in Wister male rats after 6 weeks of either daily forced swimming, voluntary running exercises, or sedentary. Learning capabilities and short, 5-hour, and long term memories improved (p < 0.05) similarly in the exercise groups, without changes (p > 0.05) in the sedentary. Likewise, both exercises resulted in increased (p < 0.05) hippocampal BDNF level. The results suggest that forced and voluntary exercises can similarly enhance cognitive- and brain-related tasks, seemingly vie the BDNF pathway. These data further confirm the health benefits of exercise and advocate both exercise modalities to enhance behavioral and neural functions.
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