The principal aim of their research program is to evaluate the long-term impact of rearing conditions and lifestyle habits on the brain and mental health. They have used environmental enrichment and handling manipulation and, more recently, exercise as a tool for improving brain functioning in adulthood and aging.
Their rats (males and females) are subjected to a 30-min session of low-moderate treadmill training (12m/min, 5 days/week) in order to reproduce a protocol widely recommended to humans. They are also introducing a high-fat high sugar diet to our studies in order to investigate whether the practice of regular low-moderate exercise can interact with the negative effects of the bad eating. As a second strategy, they use a model of senescence-accelerated mice, where mice are housed in cages containing a running wheel for performing a voluntary exercise. The long-term effects of the different forms of exercise are evaluated on behavioral, physiological and biochemical parameters in adulthood and at advanced ages. The impact of the exercise protocols on the cardiovascular function is also studied through telemetric devices implanted in the animals.
MAIN RESEARCH LINES
1) To determine the effects of long-term low-moderate exercise on brain health, in terms of anxiety, stress responsiveness, mood and cognition in males and females.
2) To evaluate whether exercise can diminish the impact of the deterioration processes associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases.
3) To investigate the interaction of the regular moderate exercise with the bad eating habits, in terms of behavioral changes.
4) To characterize the behavioral profiles predisposed to practicing regular exercise and for eating the high-fat high sugar diet.
5) To examine the effects of exercise as a treatment to diminish motor impulsivity and enhance the attentional performance.