Sport not only strengthens the body, but also improves brain function. Scientists from the University of Geneva have received interesting data on the benefits of exercise. They showed that even a small session of intense exercise markedly improves memory, and described the mechanism behind this phenomenon. Their research is published in Scientific Reports.
Cannabis derivatives and sports
Scientists have suggested that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in the mechanisms of memory improvement after exercise. It is a group of chemical compounds similar to the derivatives of the active ingredients of cannabis that the human body produces.
“They are [эндоканнабиноиды] circulate in the blood and easily enter the brain. They then bind to special receptors that cause euphoria. In addition, these molecules bind to receptors in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for processing memory. ” reported Professor Sophie Schwartz, lead author of the study, published at Scientific Reports… The researchers wanted to know if these substances play a role in improving memory under the influence of exercise.
Sports and memory
In the experiment, the researchers asked 15 young people to take tests on memory performance in different conditions: after 30 minutes of cycling at a moderate pace, 15 minutes after intensive cycling and after a period of rest.
In memory tests, participants performed tasks that scientists called “very similar to those that, for example, we do when we want to learn to type quickly.” The best indicators were in people after intense exercise.
Scientists performed magnetic resonance imaging and blood tests on the participants. These studies showed that the fastest participants had the highest levels of endocannabinoids, and their hippocampus was most active.
The authors explained that endocannabinoids affect how nerve cells connect to each other through synapses. This process affects the development of long-term memory.
Sport is a cheap and simple measure, scientists point out. They suggest that pre-class sports at school could make learning more effective. The study authors recalled that many young people have memory impairments, which can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. To what extent sport can protect against this disease, future research must show.