Exercise Can Boost Your ‘Visual’ Brainpower, And Here’s How
Now, a new small study that was published in the journal Current Biology on Monday suggests that a good workout — even if it’s just moderate exercise — can boost the visual cortex’s ability to change for the better.
The visual cortex, where the brain receives and processes visual information from the eyes, was previously thought to be a structure that lacked plasticity (or the ability to change) and couldn’t be “rewired” in adulthood, Dr. Claudia Lunghi, a neuroscientist at the University of Pisa in Italy and lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post.
“For this reason, the fact that a non-invasive manipulation such as physical activity can boost plasticity in the visual cortex is particularly surprising and particularly important,” she said.
Lunghi and her co-author, Dr. Alessandro Sale, a research scientist at the National Research Council’s Neuroscience Institute in Italy, measured the plasticity of 20 adults’ visual cortexes by asking them to watch a movie while relaxing in a chair with one eye covered by a patch. When one eye is covered, the closed eye becomes stronger as the visual cortex attempts to compensate for the lack of visual input by boosting its strength — this change in the closed eye’s strength allows scientists to measure and test the brain’s visual plasticity.
Those same participants were also asked to watch a movie while wearing the eyepatch and exercising on a stationary bike for 10-minute intervals.