Document Detail

Linking brains and brawn: exercise and the evolution of human neurobiology.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23173208     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The hunting and gathering lifestyle adopted by human ancestors around 2 Ma required a large increase in aerobic activity. High levels of physical activity altered the shape of the human body, enabling access to new food resources (e.g. animal protein) in a changing environment. Recent experimental work provides strong evidence that both acute bouts of exercise and long-term exercise training increase the size of brain components and improve cognitive performance in humans and other taxa. However, to date, researchers have not explored the possibility that the increases in aerobic capacity and physical activity that occurred during human evolution directly influenced the human brain. Here, we hypothesize that proximate mechanisms linking physical activity and neurobiology in living species may help to explain changes in brain size and cognitive function during human evolution. We review evidence that selection acting on endurance increased baseline neurotrophin and growth factor signalling (compounds responsible for both brain growth and for metabolic regulation during exercise) in some mammals, which in turn led to increased overall brain growth and development. This hypothesis suggests that a significant portion of human neurobiology evolved due to selection acting on features unrelated to cognitive performance.
David A Raichlen; John D Polk
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  280     ISSN:  1471-2954     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2013 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-11-22     Completed Date:  2013-04-30     Revised Date:  2013-07-11    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  20122250     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Biological Evolution*
Brain / growth & development*
Hominidae / genetics,  growth & development,  physiology*
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
Motor Activity*
Organ Size
Selection, Genetic
Signal Transduction
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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