Vision enhanced by physical exercise.

In Brain Science, Exercise, Senses and Perception by Brainy Days Ahead

Physical activity gives cognitive function a boost, fortifying memory and safeguarding thinking skills. According to a study by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara, it can also enhance your vision! The researchers conduct an experiment using behavioral measures and neuroimaging techniques to explore the effects of physical exercise on human performance and underlying neural activity. The researchers find that low-intensity exercise boosted activation in the visual cortex, the part of the cerebral cortex that plays an important role in processing visual information. Putting vision and brain together, each of 18 volunteers wore a wireless heart rate monitor and an EEG (electroencephalogram) cap containing 64 scalp electrodes. While on a stationary bicycle, participants performed a simple orientation discrimination task using high-contrast stimuli composed of alternating black and white bars presented at one of nine spatial orientations. The tasks were performed while at rest and during bouts of both low- and high-intensity exercise. The researchers find increased activity (arousal) changes how the brain reacts to and selects information, which also means that how that information is used could also potentially be different. But what about vision? The scientists fed the recorded brain data into a computational model to estimate the responses of the neurons in the visual cortex activated by the visual stimuli. They analyzed the responses while participants were at rest and then during low- and high-intensity exercise. They found that the peak response is enhanced during low-intensity exercise relative to rest or high-intensity exercise.