London: The study led by Cambridge University showed that running triggered the growth of hundreds of thousands of new brain cells in a region that is linked to the formation and recollection of memories.
“We know exercise can be good for healthy brain function, but this work provides us with a mechanism for the effect,” the Telegraph quoted Timothy Bussey, a behavioural neuroscientist at Cambridge and the study’s senior author as telling the Guardian.
During the study, researchers followed two groups of mice, one of which had unlimited access to a running wheel throughout, whey they clocked up an average of 15 miles (24km) a day, while the other mice formed a control group.
The mice were placed in front of a computer screen, which displayed two identical squares side by side.
According to the study, if they nudged the one on the left with their nose they received a sugar pellet reward.
If they nudged the one on the right, they got nothing.
They were then subjected to a memory test where the more they nudged the correct square, the better they scored.
The findings revealed that the running mice scored nearly twice as high as the control group during the memory test.
However, the greatest improvement occurred in the later stages of the experiment, when the two squares were so close they nearly touched.
“At this stage of the experiment, the two memories the mice are forming of the squares are very similar,” Bussey said.
“It is when they have to distinguish between the two that these new brain cells really make a difference,” he added.