MRI shows sitting can diminish the ability to recollect old memories

When taking time to stop and think, you might not want to sit down, according to an article published April 13 by the Los Angeles Times.  

Researchers at UCLA's Semel Institute and the Center for Cognitive Neurosciences found that a brain structure responsible for learning and retaining memory is the most active when either standing up or moving. 

MRI imaging and interviews of 35 cognitively healthy people between 45 and 75 years old showed that prolonged sitting thins the medial temporal lobe, the region of the brain that allows one to recollect old memories, according to the article. 

However, researchers were surprised to find no correlation between subject's exercise habits and the thickness of their medial temporal lobe.  

"Of course, we need larger samples and better ways to measure patterns of sedentary behavior," explained lead researcher and UCLA research statistician Prabha Siddarth, PhD, to the LA Times.  "But if you're sitting for long periods of time, it seems that that factor—not physical activity—becomes the more harmful or more significant measure of your fitness. Even for people who are physically active, sitting a lot seems to be bad for your brain."

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