Denison Guest Psychologist Examines Effects of Exercise on Brain Health
Posted: February 12, 2007
The old adage says "Use it or lose it," but the new research suggests that, when it comes to the brain, aerobic exercise, not mental puzzles, can help older adults achieve more efficient processing of information for memory, problem solving, and thinking. Professor Arthur F. Kramer of the department of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will visit Denison to discuss "Fitness Training and the Brain: From Molecules to Minds" at 7:30 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 19) in the Burton Morgan Lecture Hall. Sponsored by Denison's department of psychology, Kramer's lecture is free and open to the public.
Kramer's research focuses on several different topics -- understanding changes in various aspects of cognition; interventions that can capitalize on the cognitive and brain plasticity of older adults; and understanding how humans search for and extract critical details of the visual environment. His research projects are supported by the National Institute of Aging, the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Institute for the Study of Aging, General Motors Corporation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency.
In addition to his teaching duties in the department of psychology at the University of Illinois, he is a full-time faculty member in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and participates in the Institute's human perception and performance research group. Kramer and his students are interested in interventions that can capitalize on the brain plasticity of older adults in an effort to enhance cognitive vitality throughout the lifespan. To that end, they are conducting a series of randomized clinical trials exploring the effects of aerobic fitness training and cognitive training on brain function and selective aspects of cognition of older adults.
In recent cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, they have discovered substantial sparing of selective regions of cortical gray and white matter for lifetime exercisers and have also observed that older individuals who are aerobically trained show interesting changes, potentially reflecting more efficient processing, in patterns of cortical activation (as reflected through fMRI) as they perform a series of cognitive tasks. Ongoing research is following up these intriguing findings and examining the influence of multi-task training on regional changes in patterns of brain activation of old and young adults.
Kramer earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois and in addition to his positions at the University and the Beckman Institute, he is involved with the Campus Neuroscience Program and the Institute of Aviation. He is widely published in professional journals including Neurobiology of Aging, Psychology and Aging, Cognitive Brain Research, and Cerebral Cortex.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- Arthur Kramer of the Department of Psychology and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois speaking on "Fitness Training and the Brain: From Molecules to Minds"; 7:30 p.m., Monday (Feb. 19), Burton Morgan Lecture Hall (150 Ridge Road). Free and open to the public. Contact 740-587-6338 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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