PET shows positive effects of healthy lifestyle regimen

November 1, 2006

After 14 days of following healthy lifestyle strategies, participants in a study performed at the University of California, Los Angeles, demonstrated decreased brain metabolism in working memory regions.

After 14 days of following healthy lifestyle strategies, participants in a study performed at the University of California, Los Angeles, demonstrated decreased brain metabolism in working memory regions. These results suggest the brain worked more efficiently, or not as hard, to accomplish tasks.

Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, recruited 17 middle-aged, nondemented subjects. Eight subjects picked randomly followed a program combining a brain-healthy diet plan, cardiovascular conditioning, relaxation, and mental exercises. Remaining subjects continued their usual lifestyle routine and served as a control group (Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006;14:538-545).

Pre- and post-FDG-PET scanning demonstrated that participants who followed the healthy lifestyle plan showed a 5% decrease in brain metabolism in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The control group showed no significant change in brain metabolism. Compared with the control group, healthy lifestyle plan participants also performed better in verbal fluency, a cognitive function controlled by the same brain region.