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Poster A132

Does regular physical exercise mitigate age-related decline in word production?

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Yanina Prystauka1, Kamen A. Tsvetanov2, Foyzul Rahman3, Jack Feron4, Eunice G. Fernandes1, Allison Wetterlin1, Samuel J.E. Lucas4, Linda Wheeldon1, Katrien Segaert4; 1University of Agder, 2University of Cambridge, 3Birmingham City University, 4University of Birmingham

With healthy ageing there is a well-documented decline in cognitive abilities, including difficulties in word finding. A phenomenon known as "tip-of-the-tongue" becomes more prevalent, where individuals struggle to retrieve a known word. Cross-sectional studies (Segaert et al., 2018) suggest that higher aerobic fitness levels correlate with a lower occurrence of tip-of-the-tongue states in older adults, even after accounting for age and vocabulary size differences. These states have been linked to structural integrity of the insula region (Shafto et al., 2007; 2010) and functional activation in an extended network of language-related areas (Diaz et al., 2014). In the FAB project (, we evaluated 61 older participants in a tip-of-the-tongue (definition) task-fMRI session pre- and post-intervention (i.e. controlled six-months home-based exercise intervention which increased fitness only in the exercise group). With this, we examined the impact of a physical exercise intervention on language abilities and underlying neurobiology. Whole brain analyses revealed regions for tip-of-the-tongue vs know response including precuneous, angular, cingulate and superior frontal gyri. There were no whole brain effects of the intervention (no interaction between pre- vs post- and exercise vs control groups). Previous studies have found that only the association between performance and connectivity, not activity, differed with age (Tsvetanov et al., 2018), and this may extend to lifestyle-modulated effects of age. Connectivity changes are thus the focus of the ongoing analyses. Overall, our research contributes to understanding the nuanced relationship between physical exercise, language abilities, and the underlying neural mechanisms over time in aging individuals.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging


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April 13–16  |  2024