ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier:  NCT01329653

Principal Investigators:  Scott A. Small, M.D., Richard P. Sloan, Ph.D.

The hippocampus is a brain region centrally involved in memory and learning.  Many studies suggest that aerobic exercise training improves these cognitive functions but the region of the brain affected by training is unclear.  This study was designed to determine whether aerobic exercise training, in comparison to a wait list control condition, results in improved hippocampal function and, correspondingly, improved cognitive function in separate samples of young and older adults. We will recruit 274 healthy but sedentary participants who will be screened by phone and then in person to ensure that they are truly sedentary. They will complete the Baecke physical fitness inventory, a claustrophobia questionnaire, and will be screened for conditions that contra-indicate MR studies.  Qualifying subjects will undergo a cardiorespiratory exercise test to establish eligibility and baseline values.  To screen for adherence, eligible subjects will begin a two-week run-in period of stretching in the Plus One Fitness Center at Columbia University Medical Center to screen. Subjects who successfully complete run-in activities will undergo a pre-training MRI study and measurement of cognitive function, then will be randomized to the aerobic training or wait list group. All measures collected prior to randomization constitute the baseline assessment.

The aerobic training program will consist of 12 weeks of training, 4 sessions per week.  Training subjects will return for follow-up assessment of VO2max, MRI, and cognitive function after completion of the 12 weeks of training.  Wait list subjects will be tested at equivalent intervals to control for possible effects of repeated testing.

Marna Freed