Neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus was rediscovered in the 1990’s after being reported in the 1960’s. Since then, thousands upon thousands of laboratories have reported on the characteristics and presumed functional significance of new neurons in the adult brain. In 1999, we reported that mental training with effortful learning could extend the survival of these new cells and in the same year, others reported that physical training with exercise could increase their proliferation. Based on these studies and others, we developed MAP Train My Brain™, which is a brain fitness program for humans. The program combines mental and physical (MAP) training through 30-min of effortful meditation followed by 30-min of aerobic exercise. This program, when practiced twice a week for eight weeks reduced depressive symptoms and ruminative thoughts in men and women with major depressive disorder (MDD) while increasing synchronized brain activity during cognitive control. It also reduced anxiety and depression and increased oxygen consumption in young mothers who had been homeless. Moreover, engaging in the program reduced trauma-related cognitions and ruminative thoughts while increasing self-worth in adult women with a history of sexual trauma. And finally, the combination of mental and physical training together was more effective than either activity alone. Albeit effortful, this program does not require inordinate amounts of time or money to practice and can be easily adopted into everyday life. MAP Training exemplifies how we as neuroscientists can take discoveries made in the laboratory out into the world for the benefit of others.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- MAP Training