Physical Activity, Exercise Physiology, Movement
Changes in Blood Oxygen Level-Dependent (BOLD) Response to Affective Picture Viewing After Acute Exercise
(School of Public Health (UMD) Kinesiology Doctoral Student)
A single session of exercise is known to decrease negative affect and increase positive affect, but little is known regarding the brain systems underlying exercise–induced changes in affective responsiveness. We aimed to determine differences in brain activation during emotional picture viewing after an acute bout of moderate intensity exercise compared to seated rest. Nine healthy young adults (ages 20-30) completed two conditions on different days; a 30-minute session of a) seated rest or b) moderate intensity exercise on a cycle ergometer. Following rest and exercise, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were acquired while participants viewed 90 arousing pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Each picture was shown for 4 sec, with a 10-14 sec inter-picture interval. The fMRI data were analyzed using standard preprocessing methods in the Analysis of Functional NeuroImages (ANFI) software. Paired t-tests were performed on the BOLD signal to compare unpleasant and pleasant picture viewing compared to neutral pictures within exercise and rest conditions. Contrasts of pleasant and unpleasant picture viewing activation against neutral picture viewing activation revealed differences between post-rest and post-exercise picture viewing conditions. In the post-rest condition, activation met significance in response to pleasant and unpleasant picture viewing in regions that did not meet significance after exercise (i.e., right superior parietal lobe, right amygdala; p<0.05). In the post-exercise condition, several regions met statistical significance in response to pleasant and unpleasant pictures that did not meet the statistical threshold in the post-rest condition (i.e., right superior temporal gyrus, right postcentral gyrus; p<0.05). In this study, a 30-minute session of moderate-intensity cycling resulted in changes in neural responses to affective stimuli in a healthy young adult sample. These preliminary results suggest a neural basis for changes in affective responsiveness and improved mood after exercise.
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