Resting state functional connectivity in the default mode network and aerobic exercise in young adults
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Around the world Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is on the rise. Previous studies have shown the default mode network (DMN) sees changes with AD progression as the disease erodes away cortical areas. Aerobic exercise with significant increases to cardiorespiratory fitness could show neuro-protective changes to delay AD. This study will explore if functional connectivity changes in the DMN can be seen in a young adult sample by using group independent component analysis through FSL MELODIC. The young adult sample of 19 were selected from a larger study at the Brain Plasticity and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Boston University. The participants engaged in a twelve-week exercise intervention in either a strength training or aerobic training group. They also completed pre-intervention and post-intervention resting-state fMRI scans to evaluate change in functional connectivity in the default mode network. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed using a modified Balke protocol with pre-intervention and post-intervention VO2 max percentiles being used. Through two repeated-measure ANOVA analyses, this study found no significant increase in mean functional connectivity or cardiorespiratory fitness in the young adult sample. While improvements in mean VO2 max percentile and functional connectivity would have been seen with a larger sample size, this study adds to the literature by suggesting if fitness does not improve significantly, neither will functional connectivity in the default mode network.