“this is your brain on the couch”: inactivity changes the brain

We know that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. And that exercise is particularly adept at remodeling the brain, prompting the creation of new brain cells and other positive changes. I posted previously about the dangers of sedentary time (HERE).

Now it seems that inactivity can also remodel the brain. A study (Mischel et al. J Comp Neurol 2014) conducted in rats demonstrates that sedentary time changes the shape of certain neurons that significantly affect brain AND heart function. 


After 3-month of resting, neurons in the brains of sedentary rats developed branches that made them likely to overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS directs blood vessels to widen or contract as needed to control the flow of blood. Overactivity of the SNS contributes to increasing blood pressure and possibly the development of heart disease.

All the more reason to get off your couch or chair and get moving! much love.

Other References:

Mischel et al. Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb 15;522(3):499-513. doi: 10.1002/cne.23464.

Reynolds, Gretchen. How Inactivity changes the Brain. Well blogs, NY Times. January 22, 2014.


2 thoughts on ““this is your brain on the couch”: inactivity changes the brain

  1. Hi Kaitlin I have forwarded your latest post onto the Oceanside Support Group. They are excited to meet you on April 1st! Also, I forwarded the info about your Survey for Caregivers. I’m sure you will get some response from that one. I also conduct an exercise class called Minds in Motion (a joint project between the BC Alzheiner Group and the RDN [Regional District of Nanaimo]). I can forward the survey info to that group as well if you like. Take care! Doug Pickard Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:20:33 +0000 To: runfluid@hotmail.ca

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