Aerobic fitness is associated with hippocampal volume in elderly humans

Kirk I. Erickson, Ruchika S. Prakash, Michelle W. Voss, Laura Chaddock, Liang Hu, Katherine S. Morris, Siobhan M. White, Thomas R. Wójcicki, Edward McAuley, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Deterioration of the hippocampus occurs in elderly individuals with and without dementia, yet individual variation exists in the degree and rate of hippocampal decay. Determining the factors that influence individual variation in the magnitude and rate of hippocampal decay may help promote lifestyle changes that prevent such deterioration from taking place. Aerobic fitness and exercise are effective at preventing cortical decay and cognitive impairment in older adults and epidemiological studies suggest that physical activity can reduce the risk for developing dementia. However, the relationship between aerobic fitness and hippocampal volume in elderly humans is unknown. In this study, we investigated whether individuals with higher levels of aerobic fitness displayed greater volume of the hippocampus and better spatial memory performance than individuals with lower fitness levels. Furthermore, in exploratory analyses, we assessed whether hippocampal volume mediated the relationship between fitness and spatial memory. Using a region-of-interest analysis on magnetic resonance images in 165 nondemented older adults, we found a triple association such that higher fitness levels were associated with larger left and right hippocampi after controlling for age, sex, and years of education, and larger hippocampi and higher fitness levels were correlated with better spatial memory performance. Furthermore, we demonstrated that hippocampal volume partially mediated the relationship between higher fitness levels and enhanced spatial memory. Our results clearly indicate that higher levels of aerobic fitness are associated with increased hippocampal volume in older humans, which translates to better memory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1039
Number of pages10
JournalHippocampus
Volume19
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009

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Hippocampus
Dementia
Exercise
Sex Education
Life Style
Epidemiologic Studies
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
Spatial Memory

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • MRI
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Erickson, K. I., Prakash, R. S., Voss, M. W., Chaddock, L., Hu, L., Morris, K. S., ... Kramer, A. F. (2009). Aerobic fitness is associated with hippocampal volume in elderly humans. Hippocampus, 19(10), 1030-1039. https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.20547

Aerobic fitness is associated with hippocampal volume in elderly humans. / Erickson, Kirk I.; Prakash, Ruchika S.; Voss, Michelle W.; Chaddock, Laura; Hu, Liang; Morris, Katherine S.; White, Siobhan M.; Wójcicki, Thomas R.; McAuley, Edward; Kramer, Arthur F.

In: Hippocampus, Vol. 19, No. 10, 01.10.2009, p. 1030-1039.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Erickson, KI, Prakash, RS, Voss, MW, Chaddock, L, Hu, L, Morris, KS, White, SM, Wójcicki, TR, McAuley, E & Kramer, AF 2009, 'Aerobic fitness is associated with hippocampal volume in elderly humans', Hippocampus, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 1030-1039. https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.20547
Erickson KI, Prakash RS, Voss MW, Chaddock L, Hu L, Morris KS et al. Aerobic fitness is associated with hippocampal volume in elderly humans. Hippocampus. 2009 Oct 1;19(10):1030-1039. https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.20547
Erickson, Kirk I. ; Prakash, Ruchika S. ; Voss, Michelle W. ; Chaddock, Laura ; Hu, Liang ; Morris, Katherine S. ; White, Siobhan M. ; Wójcicki, Thomas R. ; McAuley, Edward ; Kramer, Arthur F. / Aerobic fitness is associated with hippocampal volume in elderly humans. In: Hippocampus. 2009 ; Vol. 19, No. 10. pp. 1030-1039.
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