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Muscle Memory
20 July 2016

Muscle Memory

Running provides an array of health benefits, not least of which is better brain function. In humans, fitness and exercise is linked to better cognition and memory, for example. While in rodents, running has been shown to enhance both memory and the birth of new brain cells – just like the newly-formed neurons (fluorescent green) shown here in a section of adult mouse brain. Exercise gets the blood pumping and improves blood flow to the brain, which likely provides part of the benefit, but what’s in the blood matters too. Scientists have identified a protein, cathepsin B, secreted into the blood by exercising muscle that, in mice, was necessary for the brain-related benefits of exercise. Cathepsin B induces the production of two important nerve growth factors in cultured neurons, which may explain how this muscle protein prompts the production of new brain cells and, in turn, better memory.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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