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Physical exercise, besides improving cognitive and mental health, is known to cause structural changes in the brain. Understanding the structural changes that occur with exercise as well as the neuroanatomical correlates of a predisposition for exercise is important for understanding human health. This study used high-resolution 3D MR imaging, in combination with deformation-based morphometry, to investigate the macroscopic changes in brain structure that occur in healthy adult mice following four weeks of voluntary exercise. We found that exercise induced changes in multiple brain structures that are involved in motor function and learning and memory including the hippocampus, dentate gyrus, stratum granulosum of the dentate gyrus, cingulate cortex, olivary complex, inferior cerebellar peduncle and regions of the cerebellum. In addition, a number of brain structures, including the hippocampus, striatum and pons, when measured on MRI prior to the start of exercise were highly predictive of subsequent exercise activity. Exercise tended to normalize these pre-existing differences between mice.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





175 - 183


Hippocampus, MRI, Mouse brain, Voluntary exercise, Animals, Brain, Cerebral Cortex, Hippocampus, Learning, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Memory, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Motor Activity, Physical Conditioning, Animal