Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been linked to cognitive impairment in people with late life depression. The study conducted by Breno Diniz and team from Federal University, Brazil, and published this month in The Journal of Gerontology Series B, is the first study to link BDNF from cerebrospinal fluid with cognitive impairment (CI) and late life depression (LLD). Other studies have found inconclusive links but this study uses CSF which because of its close relationship with the brain tissue indicates a clear relationship with cognitive impairment. The study used three groups of participants who each had a spinal tap (ouch) to obtain the CSF. One group was a Control and the other two groups were those with Late Life Depression and No Cognitive Impairment and the third group had Late Life Depression and Cognitive Impairment. The Control group had the highest level of BSNF, the LLD No Cognitive Impairment group had next lowest and the LLD Cognitive Impairment group had the lowest levels of BDNF.
The meaning of this is that it indicates that BDNF is not only present in lower quantities in those with cognitive impairment but that late life depression works as an intermediary, causing a vulnerability to cognitive impairment. This is suggested to be due to reducing the number of active neurons, thus creating the vulnerability to diseases such as Alzheimer’s etc..
BDNF is known for its link with exercise and cognitive function, ie it is released following vigorous exercise and memory and other cognitive funcitons improve. It is clearly an important factor in overall functioning.
So if you exercise you will improve your mood and your cognitive function! Simple huh?