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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 403120, 20 pages
Review Article

Physical Exercise-Induced Adult Neurogenesis: A Good Strategy to Prevent Cognitive Decline in Neurodegenerative Diseases?

1Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, BC, Canada V8P 5C2
2Department of Ophthalmology, The University of Hong Kong, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
3State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, The University of Hong Kong, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
4Department of Anatomy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
5Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Institute of CNS Regeneration, Jinan University, 601 Huangpu Avenue West, Guangdong 5106032, China
6Guangdong Key Laboratory of Brain Function and Diseases, Jinan University, 601 Huangpu Avenue West, Guangzhou 5106032, China

Received 14 November 2013; Revised 16 February 2014; Accepted 16 February 2014; Published 9 April 2014

Academic Editor: María Llorens-Martín

Copyright © 2014 Suk-yu Yau et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cumulative evidence has indicated that there is an important role for adult hippocampal neurogenesis in cognitive function. With the increasing prevalence of cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative diseases among the ageing population, physical exercise, a potent enhancer of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, has emerged as a potential preventative strategy/treatment to reduce cognitive decline. Here we review the functional role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in learning and memory, and how this form of structural plasticity is altered in neurodegenerative diseases known to involve cognitive impairment. We further discuss how physical exercise may contribute to cognitive improvement in the ageing brain by preserving adult neurogenesis, and review the recent approaches for measuring changes in neurogenesis in the live human brain.