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Enjoying Light Exercise in Rhythm Can Promote the Effects of Exercise on the Brain's Prefrontal Cortex Function

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Individuals with a strong affinity for groove rhythm (GR), characterized by its ability to induce a sense of groove, exhibited heightened activation of executive function in the prefrontal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex compared to conventional light exercise. These findings suggest the potential of an "enriched-exercise" approach that is not only enjoyable but also effective in enhancing brain functions.

Tsukuba, Japan—Listening to rhythmic music, particularly music with a pronounced groove, elicits a heightened sense of excitement, prompting individuals to instinctively move their bodies in sync with the rhythm. This natural inclination to move in harmony with music is referred to as groove.

Notably, aerobic exercise, even at low-intensity levels, stimulates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of the brain, thereby improving executive functions such as attention, concentration, and judgment. Building upon previous research, it was discovered that individuals with a high affinity for groove rhythm (GR) experienced increased executive function in the prefrontal cortex simply by listening to GR. Consequently, the research team explored the potential synergy of combining GR with exercise to amplify the enjoyment and cognitive benefits of physical activity.

In this study, 48 healthy participants aged 18-26 engaged in 3 min of very-light intensity aerobic exercise set to GR. The results revealed that participants who reported their bodies "resonating with the rhythm" during exercise, coupled with a subjective sense of "increased excitement," demonstrated enhanced executive function in the prefrontal cortex and increased activation in the left DLPFC compared to standard very light-intensity exercise. These results were reasonable considering that music preferences vary among individuals.

In Japan, where less than 30% of the population maintains a regular exercise routine, the development of inclusive exercise programs is crucial. Based on the findings of this research, investigating the impact of groove rhythm-based exercise is expected to introduce "enriched-exercise" as an enjoyable, motivating, and efficient approach for enhancing brain function.

This work was supported in part by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant [16H06405 (HS), 18H04081 (HS), and 18J10631 (TF)]; the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Grant [JPMJMI19D5 (HS)]; Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare Grant (TF), and a grant from the Advanced Research Initiative for Human High Performance (ARIHHP), University of Tsukuba.

Original Paper

Title of original paper:
Groove Rhythm Enhances Exercise Impact on Prefrontal Cortex Function in Groove Enjoyers


Professor SOYA Hideaki
Institute of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba / Deputy Director of Advanced Research Initiative for Human High Performance (ARIHHP)

Assistant Professor FUKUIE Takemune
School of Nursing and Social Services, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido

Related Link

Institute of Medicine

Advanced Research Initiative for Human High Performance (ARIHHP)

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