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  • Writer's pictureLouise DeBlanc

Exercise Feeds the Brain

This is from the book, Learning How to Learn by neuroscientists Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski.

They give scientific support for urging your child to get out and move!

Twenty years ago, author Sejnowski discovered that when you exercise, the brain releases a chemical called BDNF. These letters stand for brain derived neurotrophic factor, (or brains definitely need food). This chemical helps neurons or brain cells, grow healthy and strong. A basic part of the neuron is dendrites frequently referred to as “the legs” of the neuron. They extend outward from the neuron and form connections with other cells, transmitting information throughout your body to other neurons, muscles, and tissues. This allows you to think, move, and comprehend your environment.

Below is a picture of two dendrites. The one without spines was not exposed to BDNF and the other with spines was exposed to BDNF. The more spines there are on a dendrite, the easier it is for the neuron to send and receive signals. Because exercise increases the release of BDNF, it increases spines, which is believed to facilitate learning.

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