Many Lessons from Mischief

Did you know a group of rats is called a mischief? As in, there’s some real mischief in DC. Though that’s largely a myth, as the variety with tails tends to actually be intelligent and loyal, leaving not much mischief at all in that pustule on the Potomac.

But rather than dwell on that locale tonight, we’re instead offering a brief health advisory for our own wily pack. I spent some time reading this research paper that suggests significant cognitive benefits from aerobic exercise, specifically manifesting in enhanced adult hippocampal neurogenesis, or AHN. This being a physiological process I’ve been familiar with for some time, beginning roughly around noon today. Here’s how the paper describes it:

AHN is a continuous process through which cells proliferate in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, mature into granule cells, and ultimately become incorporated into hippocampal neuronal networks. In rodents, adult-born hippocampal neurons seem crucial for a variety of adaptive behaviors such as learning, pattern separation, and responses to stress.

So this cellular proliferation in the brain increases adaptive behaviors in rats, presumably those of two or four legs. This obviously having significant implications for our typical fields of inquiry. Given our society’s ongoing and spectacularly maladaptive mass conniption, the proliferation of hippocampal neurons would not be an unwelcome development. Here’s how to accumulate more of them:

Aerobic exercise, e.g. running, increases AHN and improves cognitive performance in both male and female adult rodents…There are also studies indicating that running increases the survival and incorporation of newly divided hippocampal cells, born days before commencing training, to increase net neurogenesis…suggesting that the neurogenic effect of exercise might span throughout the brain.

Thus aerobic exercise incrementally trends one away from maladaptive shitlibery (or at least the kind that doesn’t recognize the benefits of Good Schools). Though equally interesting was the researchers’ attempt to recreate these wholesome effects with high-intensity interval and anaerobic weight training. The results were unimpressive: shorter bursts of intense aerobics produced a very minor AHN increase, while resistance training generated none–both results being wholly independent of outcomes below the neck.

The lesson being for humans on history’s gerbil-wheel is that a brisk, sustainable pace covering long distances results in a keener mind than mad dashes or brief thrusts. Perhaps there’s more lessons than one to be drawn here.

And as man has accumulated valuable insight from the exertions of this experiment’s doughty rodents, you may be interested to learn of their reward. An extra crumb of cheese perhaps? Sort of.

Forty-eight hours after the last training session/exposure to running wheels, animals were euthanized by exposure to CO2 and death verified by cardiac puncture.

Ahh well, nice work anyway boys. Know that your deaths were for our good cause. Though I guess those AHN levels never increased enough to prompt a fight or flight response. That’s probably a follow-up test. Or maybe that experiment is in large human trials across the West right now. Has anyone seen Merkel mount a treadmill?



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