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Physical fitness and shapes of subcortical brain structures in children.

Authors
  • Ortega, Francisco B1
  • Campos, Daniel2
  • Cadenas-Sanchez, Cristina1
  • Altmäe, Signe2, 3
  • Martínez-Zaldívar, Cristina2
  • Martín-Matillas, Miguel1
  • Catena, Andrés4
  • Campoy, Cristina2, 3
  • 1 Department of Physical Education and Sports, PROFITH 'PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity' research group, School of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Granada 18071, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 2 EURISTIKOS Excellence Centre for Paediatric Research, University of Granada, Granada 18016, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Granada, Granada 18016, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 4 Mind, Brain and Behaviour International Centre, University of Granada 18071, Granada, Spain. , (Spain)
Type
Published Article
Journal
British Journal Of Nutrition
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2019
Volume
122
Issue
s1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1017/S0007114516001239
PMID: 28345503
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

A few studies have recently reported that higher cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with higher volumes of subcortical brain structures in children. It is, however, unknown how different fitness measures relate to shapes of subcortical brain nuclei. We aimed to examine the association of the main health-related physical fitness components with shapes of subcortical brain structures in a sample of forty-four Spanish children aged 9·7 (sd 0·2) years from the NUtraceuticals for a HEALthier life project. Cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and speed agility were assessed using valid and reliable tests (ALPHA-fitness test battery). Shape of the subcortical brain structures was assessed by MRI, and its relationship with fitness was examined after controlling for a set of potential confounders using a partial correlation permutation approach. Our results showed that all physical fitness components studied were significantly related to the shapes of subcortical brain nuclei. These associations were both positive and negative, indicating that a higher level of fitness in childhood is related to both expansions and contractions in certain regions of the accumbens, amygdala, caudate, hippocampus, pallidum, putamen and thalamus. Cardiorespiratory fitness was mainly associated with expansions, whereas handgrip was mostly associated with contractions in the structures studied. Future randomised-controlled trials will confirm or contrast our findings, demonstrating whether changes in fitness modify the shapes of brain structures and the extent to which those changes influence cognitive function.

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