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The effects of acrobatic exercise on brain plasticity: a systematic review of animal studies

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Acrobatic exercise is considered a complex motor activity and may promote motor learning and neuroplasticity. The objective of this systematic review was to verify possible plastic brain changes induced by acrobatic exercise in non-lesioned rat and mouse through the analysis of experimental studies. Manual and electronic searches were conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE and ISI Web of Science databases, without restriction to language or publication date. Synaptogenesis and neurogenesis were selected as the primary outcomes. To evaluate the risk of bias of individual studies, we used the Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory Animal Experimentation (SYRCLE) RoB tool. We found 1780 studies, from which 18 fulfilled the inclusion criteria in this review. Seventeen studies evaluated the cerebellum, six the motor cortex, five the striatum and two evaluated the hippocampus. The results showed that acrobatic exercise promotes plastic changes in brain areas of rats, and such changes are dependent of training frequency and duration. However, studies were heterogeneous regarding the proteins analyzed and the training protocols, which made it difficult to compare and determine ideal acrobatic exercise parameters for neuroplasticity. Concerning the methodological quality of studies, most of them presented high risk of bias with absence of relevant study design information. New research with detailing training protocols and analysis might contribute to clarify the role of acrobatic exercise in neuroplasticity and how it could be used in translational research.

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Correspondence to R. M. S. Gutierrez.

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Gutierrez, R.M.S., Ricci, N.A., Gomes, Q.R.S. et al. The effects of acrobatic exercise on brain plasticity: a systematic review of animal studies. Brain Struct Funct 223, 2055–2071 (2018).

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  • Physical exercise
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Motor skill
  • Brain
  • Acrobatic exercise