Laura Chaddock and Art Kramer: How Exercise Affects the Shape and Function of Children’s Brains

September 30, 2010

It has been known for some time that aerobic exercise and physical activity can increase cognitive function and affect the development of the hippocampus – the structure deep in the middle of the temporal lobe that’s involved with spatial memory. In fact, researchers have discovered that an “enriched environment” which includes regular physical activity can actually lead to larger hippocampal volume among older adults.

But recently published studies seem to indicate that physical exercise is especially critical to the brain development of younger children – and that a lack of it could lead to a significant underdevelopment of areas such as the hippocampus and the basal ganglia.

In this podcast, we speak with Dr. Laura Chaddock and Dr. Art Kramer of the University of Illinois. These scientists, using advanced MRI techniques, found that physically fit children in the 9-10 age group tended to have larger hippocampal volume and greater basal ganglia development than their less fit counterparts.

Be sure to join us as we discuss these results as well as their potential implications in terms of childhood education and public health.