Physical activity and aerobic fitness in relation to local and interhemispheric functional connectivity in adolescents' brains

Ilona Ruotsalainen*, Enrico Glerean, Juha Karvanen, Tetiana Gorbach, Ville Renvall, Heidi J. Syvaoja, Tuija H. Tammelin, Tiina Parviainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction Adolescents have experienced decreased aerobic fitness levels and insufficient physical activity levels over the past decades. While both physical activity and aerobic fitness are related to physical and mental health, little is known concerning how they manifest in the brain during this stage of development, characterized by significant physical and psychosocial changes. The aim of the study is to examine the associations between both physical activity and aerobic fitness with brains' functional connectivity.

Methods Here, we examined how physical activity and aerobic fitness are associated with local and interhemispheric functional connectivity of the adolescent brain (n = 59), as measured with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Physical activity was measured by hip-worn accelerometers, and aerobic fitness by a maximal 20-m shuttle run test.

Results We found that higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, but not aerobic fitness, were linked to increased local functional connectivity as measured by regional homogeneity in 13-16-year-old participants. However, we did not find evidence for significant associations between adolescents' physical activity or aerobic fitness and interhemispheric connectivity, as indicated by homotopic connectivity.

Conclusions These results suggest that physical activity, but not aerobic fitness, is related to local functional connectivity in adolescents. Moreover, physical activity shows an association with a specific brain area involved in motor functions but did not display any widespread associations with other brain regions. These results can advance our understanding of the behavior-brain associations in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number01941
Number of pages14
JournalBrain and Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • aerobic fitness
  • brain
  • fMRI
  • functional connectivity
  • physical activity
  • RIGHT SUPRAMARGINAL GYRUS
  • RESTING-STATE NETWORKS
  • CARDIORESPIRATORY FITNESS
  • REGIONAL HOMOGENEITY
  • MOTION CORRECTION
  • PUBERTAL CHANGES
  • EXERCISE
  • FMRI
  • ROBUST
  • REGISTRATION

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