Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.
Physical Activity and Brain Development 2A
Physical Activity and Brain Development 2A

Physical Activity and Brain Development 2A

Donna Bateman, who runs Parents With Purpose, has some interesting articles on her website. (Though at least one is downright corrupt. Update (3-17-09 at 1:20 PM): See the following post for detail.) Parents With Purpose gives presentations on child brain development and learning, and provides evaluations of children and their neurological function. She says about herself and her training:
Hello!  My name is Donna Bateman and I am the founder of Parents with Purpose. I was born in Texas and grew up in Grand Prairie.  I attended Brigham Young University, where I met my husband, Bart—luckily, a fellow Texan!  Following college, we moved back to Texas and have lived in Plano since 1989. … I received my formal training at The Family Hope Center in Blue Bell, PA as a Certified Child Development Evaluator.    My course of study included one-on-one instruction from Child Brain Developmentalists, Matthew and Carol Newell and their entire staff. … My certification from The Family Hope Center qualifies me to evaluate a child’s development, design  innovative individualized programs, and teach about this program for well children and those with mild to moderate issues.  This unique method has been shown in independent studies to help children progress 300% faster than the national average!!!
Mrs. Bateman says about her methods and approach:
I believe physical activity is vital for your child’s success.   Human beings are designed to move.  We’ve all read the headlines about the epidemic of terrible consequences when people don’t move appropriately and enough.  Infants organize their brain through crawling and this function propels them to the next level of development.  Current research is being published nearly every day making the connection between exercise and healthy brain function. … I believe parenting should be  on purpose instead of  by accident.  Children don’t come with an instruction manual.  But when mothers and fathers are given a roadmap for their child’s neurological development—and the functions/milestones that result from the development of the brain—parents can easily guide their child in going from point A to point B.  They can plot the course and will be armed with the tools necessary to keep their child’s development on track—and what to do if there is a detour. … I believe nutrition is a powerful and fundamental area of change to help a child’s neurological function.    Your digestive tract is often referred to as the second brain and is responsible for a large portion of your immune system and the manufacture of up to 50% of your neurotransmitters.  Setting a positive biochemical foundation for your child is of vital importance.
Sounds good. Sounds like she’s got a good product. I don’t know what she says about nutrition, but the general points she makes in the above quote make good sense. If you want real advice on nutrition, see De Vany‘s Evolutionary Fitness, Dr. Corain’s Paleo Diet, or Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades’ Protein Power. These people have an integrated, inductive approach to diet, health and exercise; you can’t beat it. In regard to exercise and brain development, Mrs. Bateman describes one scientific study as follows:
Exercise can help fight depression and Grow New Brain Cells
BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhuanet) — A new study of wheel-running rats reveals exercise not only fights depression, it also helps the brain grow new cells. Astrid Bjornebekk of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and her colleagues studied rats that had been genetically altered to exhibit depressive behaviors, plus a second group of control rats. … The researchers also examined the hippocampus region of the brain, involved in learning and memory. Neurons there increased dramatically in the depressed rats after wheel-running. Past studies have found the human brain’s hippocampus shrinks in depressed individuals, a phenomenon thought to cause some of the mental problems often linked with depression. “The hippocampus formation is one of the regions they have actually seen structural changes in depressed patients,” Bjornebekk said. … The research is published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. (Agencies) Source: www.chinaview.cn
Interesting. Thank Darwin, Michael Faraday, Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (aka Paracelsus), and Aristotle (and others) for leading us to this research; they made the research possible. In some articles on Parents with Purpose,”cardio” is recommended. But don’t do it!! Such exercise is not good for you. See De Vany’s Evolutionary Fitness for details and the big picture, but you should stick to brief, high-intensity exercise (such as sprints or explosions with weights) combined with extended periods of low-intensity exercise (such as walking or slow negatives with weights). Some sports that follow this pattern are soccer, basketball and tennis. (Long distance running is bad for you; see Art De Vany’s blog post on marathons.) Observe animals; they all follow this pattern of much low-intensity activity and little (but definite) high-intensity activity. About another research study, Mrs. Bateman reports:
Exercise and the Brain The Morris water maze is the rodent equivalent of an I.Q. test: mice are placed in a tank filled with water dyed an opaque color. Beneath a small area of the surface is a platform, which the mice can’t see. Despite what you’ve heard about rodents and sinking ships, mice hate water; those that blunder upon the platform climb onto it immediately. Scientists have long agreed that a mouse’s spatial memory can be inferred by how quickly the animal finds its way in subsequent dunkings. A “smart” mouse remembers the platform and swims right to it. In the late 1990s, one group of mice at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, near San Diego, blew away the others in the Morris maze. The difference between the smart mice and those that floundered? Exercise. The brainy mice had running wheels in their cages, and the others didn’t. Scientists have suspected for decades that exercise, particularly regular aerobic exercise, can affect the brain. But they could only speculate as to how. Now an expanding body of research shows that exercise can improve the performance of the brain by boosting memory and cognitive processing speed. Exercise can, in fact, create a stronger, faster brain. This theory emerged from those mouse studies at the Salk Institute. After conducting maze tests, the neuroscientist Fred H. Gage and his colleagues examined brain samples from the mice. Conventional wisdom had long held that animal (and human) brains weren’t malleable: after a brief window early in life, the brain could no longer grow or renew itself. The supply of neurons — the brain cells that enable us to think — was believed to be fixed almost from birth. As the cells died through aging, mental function declined. The damage couldn’t be staved off or repaired. Gage’s mice proved otherwise. Before being euthanized, the animals had been injected with a chemical compound that incorporates itself into actively dividing cells. During autopsy, those cells could be identified by using a dye. Gage and his team presumed they wouldn’t find such cells in the mice’s brain tissue, but to their astonishment, they did. Up until the point of death, the mice were creating fresh neurons. Their brains were regenerating themselves. All of the mice showed this vivid proof of what’s known as “neurogenesis,” or the creation of new neurons. But the brains of the athletic mice in particular showed many more. These mice, the ones that scampered on running wheels, were producing two to three times as many new neurons as the mice that didn’t exercise. But did neurogenesis also happen in the human brain? To find out, Gage and his colleagues had obtained brain tissue from deceased cancer patients who had donated their bodies to research. While still living, these people were injected with the same type of compound used on Gage’s mice. (Pathologists were hoping to learn more about how quickly the patients’ tumor cells were growing.) When Gage dyed their brain samples, he again saw new neurons. Like the mice, the humans showed evidence of neurogenesis. Gage’s discovery hit the world of neurological research like a thunderclap. Since then, scientists have been finding more evidence that the human brain is not only capable of renewing itself but that exercise speeds the process. … This spring, neuroscientists at Columbia University in New York City published a study in which a group of men and women, ranging in age from 21 to 45, began working out for one hour four times a week. After 12 weeks, the test subjects, predictably, became more fit. Their VO2 max, the standard measure of how much oxygen a person takes in while exercising, rose significantly. But something else happened as a result of all those workouts: blood flowed at a much higher volume to a part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis. Functional M.R.I.’s showed that a portion of each person’s hippocampus received almost twice the blood volume as it did before. Scientists suspect that the blood pumping into that part of the brain was helping to produce fresh neurons. The hippocampus plays a large role in how mammals create and process memories; it also plays a role in cognition. If your hippocampus is damaged, you most likely have trouble learning facts and forming new memories. Age plays a factor, too. As you get older, your brain gets smaller, and one of the areas most prone to this shrinkage is the hippocampus. (This can start depressingly early, in your 30’s.) Many neurologists believe that the loss of neurons in the hippocampus may be a primary cause of the cognitive decay associated with aging. A number of studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia tend to have smaller-than-normal hippocampi. Source:  www.sharpbrains.com


  1. Interesting commentary and a STARTING point for a discussion. It would be very decent to advise someone you’re making comments about so they can respond.

    Which article do you consider “corrupt”? And please define “corrupt”.

    I have TONS more research regarding exercise and the brain. It doesn’t really take more than google to locate it.

    Would loooooove to have an exchange of ideas

  2. Mrs. Bateman:

    Sorry if I did not make it clear that I was addressing specifically the “research” that tried to justify “altruism.” I thought I had.

    I thought that I had written and organized things clearly so that it would be known that I supported the idea that exercise and physical motion affected brain development and proper functioning. The context of all the posts (relevant to exercise and brain function) on my blog make my position and recommendations clear.

    So in that respect — the important thing for what you do and for your business — I support what you are doing.

    I am totally opposed to the article, as I said earlier, that tries to support “altruism” by chemical reactions in the brain.

    More later. I need to run off to work right now.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *