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Neuroscientist’s experiment improves brain function in students

experiment to improve students' brain

The Experiment

New York University Center for Neural Science professor Wendy Suzuki conducted research that demonstrates the measurable improvement in brain function after just a single instance of vigorous exercise. In collaboration with other researchers, Suzuki conducted an experiment where subjects engaged in an hour of vigorous exercise, specifically 50 minutes of exercise bike riding with a five-minute warm-up and cool-down. Following the exercise session, the subjects underwent cognitive tests to assess different aspects of brain function.

The Results

The results showed that the subjects who participated in the exercise bike riding had significantly better scores on tests evaluating prefrontal cortex function compared to those who spent the hour watching a television show. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for crucial cognitive tasks such as reasoning, problem-solving, learning, memory, and communication skills, which are essential for business leaders. Through longitudinal testing, the researchers observed that the improved brain function persisted for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Suzuki’s study on the impact of exercise on brain function extended beyond the laboratory. In a real-world version of the experiment, she introduced a weekly IntenSati class to her neuroscience major students at NYU. IntenSati is a cardio workout that combines dance and kickboxing moves, yoga, and affirmations. Suzuki discovered that even with just one workout session per week, the students who exercised with her showed improved reaction times and consistently strong academic performance throughout the semester. In contrast, the non-exercising students experienced a decline in performance over time.

The Purpose

Suzuki’s interest in studying the effects of exercise on the brain stemmed from her personal experience. Around her 40th birthday, despite a successful career and high productivity, she felt unhappy. After hiring a trainer and attending IntenSati classes, she noticed an improvement in her mood, a common outcome when people start exercising regularly. Additionally, she observed enhancements in her cognition. Suzuki realized that her brain function had improved as a result of exercising more. She emphasized that a vigorous workout can maximize brain function, stating that “exercise is something that when you spend time on it, it will buy you time when you start to work.”

To apply Suzuki’s discoveries to your own life, it is worth considering incorporating a workout into your routine before important meetings, presentations, or crucial projects. As the research indicates that exercise can enhance cognitive function for up to two hours, engaging in cardio activities such as running can be beneficial. Moreover, Suzuki’s findings reassure individuals that they can reap the brain benefits of exercise without needing to be dedicated gym-goers who sweat it out every day. Even one cardio workout per week is sufficient to improve brain function, and this improvement can be sustained over time.

How the findings impact us

Suzuki’s research findings hold particular relevance for entrepreneurs and business leaders who understand the significance of being mentally sharp. It is reassuring to know that something as simple as a once-a-week workout can make a meaningful difference. As part of her commitment to promoting self-care and motivation, Suzuki offers a daily text service to a growing audience of Inc.com readers. This service provides micro-challenges or tips related to self-care and motivation. Many readers engage in conversations with Suzuki, recognizing the importance of being in their best mental state. Therefore, the knowledge that a once-a-week workout can have a positive impact is invaluable.

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