In recent years, there have been many studies about the relationship between your neural messages and motivation for exercise. Scientists have believed that there must be a reason why some people are motivated to exercise, while others don’t feel the need. The claims made by the scientists have finally seen some positive backing. 

According to a recent study, scientists discovered that a tiny region in the human brain is responsible for controlling a person’s desire to sprint and participate in some other rewarding activities. The study was conducted on mice, and noted their motivation for running. 

The region of brain responsible for this motivation is called Dorsal Medial Habenula. The structure in mice is similar to the region in men. Scientists believe that this region’s ability to regulate motivation and mood should be similar across the two different species. 

According to Head Researcher, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Eric Turner, some significant changes in the physical activity and a person’s inability to enjoy pleasurable or rewarding experiences are two major causes of depression. 

He believes that the brain pathways that play an important role for exercise motivation aren’t well understood. With some new and effective ways to manipulate activity within particular brain areas, researchers plan to develop more effective and targeted treatments for depression. Researchers are positive about developing some effective ways to accomplish these goals without having any impact on the rest of brain activity. 

exercise brain

During their research, Eric Turner and other researchers focused on genetically engineered mice. They tried to block various signals from the mice’s Dorsal Medial Habenula. As compared to regular mice who always love to sprint on wheels, genetically engineered mice ran less, and even felt lethargic. As a side note, this is not the first time in the recent past that we explored depression with the aid of mice. A study conducted in 2006 used mice to test the hypothesis that the deficiency of certain proteins, particularly p11, can also lead to depression. The researchers concluded that if the lacking protein was introduced in form of supplements, the mood of the animals significantly improved.

Recently, Turner explained in a press release that the lack of a functioning Dorsal Medial Habenula, the genetically engineered mice acted like couch potatoes. Although these mice were capable of running, they didn’t have the motivation to sprint on wheels. 

Eric Turner also explained that these genetically engineered mice didn’t prefer sweetened, delicious drinking water instead of regular water. It’s important to understand that the lack of basic exercise and desire to seek pleasure led to depression in the mice. These mice didn’t care anymore about their health and well being. 

The research team also conducted another experiment. In this experiment, researches precisely targeted light to the Dorsal Medial Habenula of the mice. When the mice turned one of the two wheels using their paws, they were able to voluntarily activate the specific region in the brain.