National Spotlight on Intern's Brain & Fitness Findings

We are proud to announce Krista Hanson, a psychology intern in the Department of Psychiatry, had her dissertation data presented to the press by her dissertation adviser at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, DC. National media, such as the Wall Street Journal, published the findings.

In Ms. Hanson's dissertation, she found that higher levels of aerobic fitness as measured by endurance and ventilatory efficiency were related to reduce aging in terms of brain volume and greater performance on cognitive measures. This was demonstrated in the brain scans of 58 men and 65 women between the ages 50 and 89 years in relation to their performance on inclined treadmill tests.

"Our findings suggest that a high level of aerobic fitness may help diminish the changes in brain structure that occur as we get older," said senior author, Gene Alexander, PhD, Professor of Psychology with the University of Arizona Brain Imaging, Behavior & Aging Laboratory.

Their results indicate the more physically fit a person is, the less age-related brain changes he or she will show. This was apparent in memory function, executive processes, and information processing speed. In addition, predictions of patterns in brain aging could be made by a participant's level of exercise endurance and breathing efficiency.

Krista Hanson's clinical work and research continues to focus on the differences between pathological and non-pathological aging with an emphasis on Alzheimer's disease and pre-Alzheimer's cognitive declines. We anticipate this is only the beginning for Ms. Hanson as she launches her promising research career. Congratulations!

Release Date: 
12/06/2011 - 12:44pm