An 8-month exercise intervention alters frontotemporal white matter integrity in overweight children

David J. Schaeffer, Cynthia E. Krafft, Nicolette F. Schwarz, Lingxi Chi, Amanda L. Rodrigue, Jordan E. Pierce, Jerry David Allison, Nathan Eugene Yanasak, Tianming Liu, Catherine Lucy Davis, Jennifer E. McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


In childhood, excess adiposity and low fitness are linked to poor academic performance, lower cognitive function, and differences in brain structure. Identifying ways to mitigate obesity-related alterations is of current clinical importance. This study examined the effects of an 8-month exercise intervention on the uncinate fasciculus, a white matter fiber tract connecting frontal and temporal lobes. Participants consisted of 18 unfit, overweight 8- to 11-year-old children (94% Black) who were randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise (n=10) or a sedentary control group (n=8). Before and after the intervention, all subjects participated in a diffusion tensor MRI scan. Tractography was conducted to isolate the uncinate fasciculus. The exercise group showed improved white matter integrity as compared to the control group. These findings are consistent with an emerging literature suggesting beneficial effects of exercise on white matter integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-733
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Children
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Exercise
  • Obesity
  • Uncinate fasciculus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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