Researchers confirm the impact of sedentary behaviour on a critical brain region linked to memory
Researchers have found that a large number of hours spent sitting are linked to thinning of the medial temporal lobe of the brain. Such thinning may be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults.
Sitting too long is linked to changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory, according to a preliminary study of middle-aged and older adults by UCLA researchers.
Studies show that, like smoking, sitting too much increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. The UCLA researchers wanted to see how sedentary behaviour affects brain health, particularly those areas of the brain that are critical to memory formation.
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The UCLA researchers recruited 35 people aged 45 to 75 - 25 women and 10 men - and asked about their physical activity levels and average number of hours spent per day in the previous week. Each person underwent a high-resolution MRI scan, which provides a detailed picture of the medial temporal lobe, a region of the brain involved in forming new memories.
The researchers found that sedentary behaviour is a significant predictor of medial temporal lobe thinning and that physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the adverse effects of sitting for long periods.
The researchers then hope to follow a group of people for a longer period of time to determine whether sitting causes thinning and what role gender, race and weight might play in sitting-related brain health.
Medial temporal lobe thinning may be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults. Reducing sedentary behaviour may be a possible target for strategies to improve brain health in people at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, the researchers say.
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The authors of the study
Prabha Siddarth, a biostatistician at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, is the first author of the study. Dr. David Merrill, a geriatric psychiatrist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA, is the study's lead author. The other authors are Alison Burggren and Gary Small, both of UCLA, and Harris Eyre of the University of Adelaide, Australia.
Leigh Hopper | 16 April 2018 / Translated by Julien Frère + Google translate 9 May 2018
Link to study results: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0195549
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