Goretti España defends her doctoral thesis on the relationship between physical activity and brain health

The researcher Goretti España has defended her doctoral thesis, developed within the framework of the BBHI and directed by Sergiu Albu, neurologist at the Institut Guttmann, and Timothy P. Morris, researcher at Northeastern University in Boston (USA). The panel, formed by Arthur Kramer (Northeastern University), David Costa Miserachs (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and Maria Mataró Serrat (University of Barcelona), awarded the highest mark to the PhD student.

España, currently a researcher in the Computational Neuroscience of Exercise Laboratory at Northeastern University, focused her thesis on the physical activity pillar as a potential factor determining brain health over time. To this end, the researcher analysed the relationship between the cardiorespiratory fitness of people between 40 and 65 years old, their cognitive abilities and their mental health. In addition, she characterised cardiorespiratory fitness as a neuroprotective factor with implications for structural and functional brain health, which could potentially contribute to the development of more effective and precise lifestyle interventions to maintain and improve brain health during the natural ageing process.

España presented part of the results of his thesis at the Coffee Brains session "Physical activity and cardiovascular risk as key factors for brain health" held in June 2022. You can find it here.

The increase in life expectancy is not necessarily followed by an increase in health. In fact, aging is one of the most relevant risk factors for the development of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Numerous studies have established that structural and functional changes in the brain historically associated with neurodegenerative diseases may occur 10-20 years before the first symptoms of these pathologies. It is therefore particularly important to investigate the influence of modifiable lifestyle habits on the prevention of these diseases. The mechanisms underlying the associations between lifestyle adherence and brain health factors in the face of ageing or in the early stages of certain neurodegenerative diseases are not yet fully understood, and research such as this one will contribute in the future to the promotion of global health strategies in this regard.