Document Type


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IOS Press

Source Publication

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

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Exercise training (ET) has neuroprotective effects in the hippocampus, a key brain region for memory that is vulnerable to age-related dysfunction.


We investigated the effects of ET on functional connectivity (FC) of the hippocampus in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and a cognitively normal (CN) control group. We also assessed whether the ET-induced changes in hippocampal FC (Δhippocampal-FC) are associated with changes in memory task performance (Δmemory performance).


32 older adults (77.0±7.6 years; 16 MCI and 16 CN) participated in the present study. Cardiorespiratory fitness tests, memory tasks (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) and Logical Memory Test (LM)), and resting-state fMRI were administered before and after a 12-week walking ET intervention. We utilized a seed-based correlation analysis using the bilateral anterior and posterior hippocampi as priori seed regions of interest. The associations of residualized ET-induced Δhippocampal-FC and Δmemory performance were assessed using linear regression.


There were significant improvements in RAVLT Trial 1 and LM test performance after ET across participants. At baseline, MCI, compared to CN, demonstrated significantly lower posterior hippocampal FC. ET was associated with increased hippocampal FC across groups. Greater ET-related anterior and posterior hippocampal FC with right posterior cingulate were associated with improved LM recognition performance in MCI participants.


Our findings indicate that hippocampal FC is significantly increased following 12-weeks of ET in older adults and, moreover, suggest that increased hippocampal FC may reflect neural network plasticity associated with ET-related improvements in memory performance in individuals diagnosed with MCI.


Accepted version. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol. 82, No. 3 (2021): 1015-1031. DOI. This article is © The Authors, Published by IOS Press. Used with permission. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (CC BY-NC 4.0).

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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