New NIH Grant Awarded

    Dr. Takashi Tarumi was awarded an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99HL133449) in August 2016. Dr. Tarumi proposed a study entitled “Midlife Brain Plasticity: Exercise and Vascular Function.”

Project Background

    Converging evidence indicates that the presence of midlife vascular risk factors (e.g. hypertension and diabetes) accelerates brain aging and increases the risk of dementia in late life. Conversely, midlife physical activity is associated with the reduced risk of dementia in late life. The potential benefits of regular aerobic exercise on neurocognitive function have been demonstrated in older adults; however, no interventional study has investigated such effects in middle-aged adults. Therefore, the overarching goal of this project is to determine the effects of regular aerobic exercise on neurocognitive function (primary outcome) as well as brain neuronal plasticity and cerebrovascular function (secondary outcomes) in middle-aged adults with subclinical cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. prehypertension and prediabetes).

Aims and Hypotheses:

  • Aim 1: Determine the effect of regular aerobic exercise on neurocognitive function. Hypothesis: Regular aerobic exercise improves fluid cognitive performance.
  • Aim 2: Determine the effect of regular aerobic exercise on brain plasticity. Hypothesis: Regular aerobic exercise increases prefrontal and hippocampal volumes, white matter fiber integrity in the anterior corpus callosum, and functional connectivity of the default-mode-network.
  • Aim 3: Determine the impact of regular aerobic exercise on brain perfusion and its relation to neurocognitive function and brain plasticity. Hypotheses: 1) Regular aerobic exercise increases regional brain perfusion while attenuating cerebral blood flow (CBF) pulsatility in the large cerebral arteries; 2) The exercise-related changes in brain perfusion and CBF pulsatility mediate changes in neurocognitive function and brain plasticity