Zum Einfluss von Ausdauer- und Krafttrainingsreizen auf die kognitive Leistungsfähigkeit unter besonderer Berücksichtigung neuro-biologischer Faktoren

Research output: Book/ReportPost-doctoral dissertations


Research units


Cognitive performance represents a key ability in our ageing, physical inactive post-industrial society. Physical fitness is associated with improved cognitive functioning across the whole life span in healthy individuals and various clinical populations. Additionally, a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity seems to decrease the risk for neurodegenerative disorders – a major issue in view of our ageing population. Finally, evidence suggests that both, acute exercise and training interventions ameliorate the performance in specific cognitive domains. Against this backdrop and the fact that exercise has several other psychological and physical benefits, research focuses on a better mechanistic understanding of these effects in order to specify and improve exercise recommendations. So far, many studies in the context of exercise interventions and cognitive performance suffer from methodological limitations, such as lack of adequate control groups, small sample sizes and usage of inappropriate assessments.
One part of my work aims to improve designs for trials investigating the influence of acute aerobic and resistance exercise and training on the cognitive performance of healthy subjects and clinical populations (especially cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS)). For acute studies, we have shown that the most frequently used control group paradigms (reading, watching TV, stretching, waiting, etc.) do not induce lower expectations regarding several cognitive domains compared to moderate aerobic exercise. For vigorous aerobic exercise, expectations were in favor for some of the control group paradigms, suggesting that improvements in cognitive performance are not related to placebo effects and may be driven by physiological alterations. In ongoing clinical trials, we have tried to establish placebo control groups in addition to waitlist controls.
The second (main) part of my work aims to uncover some of the biological mechanism contributing to the positive effects of exercise on the cognitive performance and brain health in patients with cancer and MS. In this context studies focus on inflammatory processes, including blood brain barrier permeability, Tryptophan metabolism, neurotrophic factors as well as on lactate as fuel for the brain. In persons with MS, we have shown that high intensity interval training reduces serum levels of the matrix metalloproteinase 2. This protein is mainly driven by inflammation, increases the permeability of the blood brain barrier and is known to be pathological elevated in MS. In parallel we found effects of exercise on the Kynurenine-pathway, representing a catabolic branch in Tryptophan metabolism. This pathway is closely related to inflammatory processes and produces several immune- and neuromodulating metabolites which are dysregulated in MS, cancer and various other disorders. Thereby my research is focused on neuro-immunological interactions which are more or less commonly affected in all diseases mentioned before. Currently we try to gain more knowledge on the relation between short-term effects of exercise and long-term adaption of neuro-immunological markers and their relation to cognitive performance and brain health.
Original languageGerman
Place of PublicationKöln
PublisherDeutsche Sporthochschule Köln
Number of pages87
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 5051497


  • Habil_Final

    Final published version, 1.42 MB, PDF document

View graph of relations