Li, J.-Y., Kuo, T. B. J., Hung, C.-T. et al. 2021. Voluntary exercise enhances hippocampal theta rhythm and cognition in the rat. Behavioural Brain Research 399, 112916.

Regular exercise promotes learning and memory functions. Theta activity is known to relate to various cognitive functions. An increase in theta power may be related to higher cognitive functioning and learning functions. However, evidence is lacking to directly confirm that exercise training can increase the theta activity and promote various cognitive functions simultaneously. We hypothesize that long-term voluntary exercise increases the activity of hippocampal theta rhythm and enhances memory behavior. We used the voluntary wheel running model and a training period of 8 weeks. We started the training when the rats were 12 weeks old. Before and after intervention, we performed a 24 -h electrophysiological recording and 8-arm radial maze test to analyze the hippocampal theta rhythm in awake stage, and spatial memory functions. We discovered that middle to high range frequency (6.5–12 Hz) of theta power was increased after exercise intervention. In addition, the working memory error of 8-arm radial maze test in the exercise group decreased significantly after the 8 weeks of treatment, and these reductions were negatively correlated with hippocampal theta activity. Our results demonstrate that 8-weeks voluntary exercise increases both hippocampal theta amplitude and spatial memory in the rats.

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