Regulation of brain function by exercise

Neurobiol Dis. 2003 Jun;13(1):1-14. doi: 10.1016/s0969-9961(03)00030-5.


The effect of excercise on brain function was investigated through animal experiments. Exercise leads to increased serum calcium levels, and the calcium is transported to the brain. This in turn enhances brain dopamine synthesis through a calmodulin-dependent system, and increased dopamine levels regulate various brain functions. There are abnormally low levels of dopamine in the neostriatum and nucleus accumbens of epileptic mice (El mice strain) and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). The low dopamine levels in those animals were improved following intracerebroventricular administration of calcium chloride. Dopamine levels and blood pressure in SHR were also normalized by exercise. In epileptic El mice, convulsions normalized dopamine levels and physiologic function. These findings suggest that exercise or convulsions affect brain function through calcium/calmodulin-dependent dopamine synthesis. This leads to the possibility that some symptoms of Parkinson's disease or senile dementia might be improved by exercise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Mice
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy
  • Rats


  • Ethanol
  • Calcium
  • Dopamine