CVL to Participate in “Hope for Tomorrow” Conference

Center faculty member Dr. Chandramallika Basak will be discussing the effects of cardiorespiratory fitness on cognition at the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Hope for Tomorrow” Conference for community and healthcare professionals on May 3, 2014 in Dallas.

Dr. Basak has previously done research on how exercise training increases the size of hippocampus and improves memory. In 2011, along with colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois and Rice University, Dr. Basak found that the hippocampus shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia.

The hippocampus is a structure within the brain that plays an important role in short-term and long-term memory, and in spatial navigation. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain. Hippocampal volumes are generally larger in physically fit adults, but the extent to which aerobic exercise training can modify hippocampal volume in late adulthood was largely unknown.

In a randomized controlled trial with more than 100 older adults, Dr. Basak and the team showed that aerobic exercise training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in memory. Exercise training, they found, increased hippocampal volume by 2 percent, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by one to two years.

Dr. Basak will be discussing these and other important findings that indicate that aerobic exercise training may play an important role in improving memory function in late adulthood.

As part of a conference track that includes identifying predictors of a healthily aging brain, and certain lifestyle interventions that can modify or stave off disease processes, Dr. Basak hopes to share information that can have an immediate impact on improving cognitive health in older adults, she said.

Other researchers in the track, from SUNY Upstate Medical University, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Baylor, and the University of Washington will be giving a series of presentations on Alzheimer’s, and links to diabetes, mild cognitive impairment, and depression.

To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Hope for Tomorrow” conference, please click here.