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Neuroimaging study finds people who exercise more display an elevated brain response to reward

0 2 years ago

New research published in the journal Biological Psychology revealed that people who exercise more show increased brain activity when receiving an unexpected reward, specifically in the right medial orbitofrontal cortex. These findings may suggest that regular exercise alters the reward-circuit function, potentially reinforcing exercise behavior.

The physical and mental health benefits of exercise are widely known, yet finding the motivation to exercise can be a challenge. The authors of the study said that a look inside the brain may shed light on how people can be encouraged to maintain healthy exercise habits. More specifically, the dopamine reward system may play a role in motivating people to exercise, and the study authors proposed that regular exercise might alter the brain reward response.

“My background is in eating disorders research and those individuals frequently engage in very high amount of exercise. Before we explore the effects of exercise in that population, I wanted to study the relationship between exercise and brain reward processing, specifically dopamine-related reward processing,” said study author Guido K.W. Frank of the University of California, San Diego.

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