• every other day fasting;
  • exercise;
  • memory;
  • BDNF;
  • hippocampus


Substantial data suggest that cognitive function can be influenced by many lifestyle activities associated with changes in energy metabolism such as exercise and diet. In the current study, we investigated the combined effects of voluntary exercise (access to running wheels) and dietary restriction (every other day fasting, EODF) on spatial memory formation and on the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus of Wistar male rats. Spatial learning and memory formation was assessed using the radial arm water maze (RAWM) paradigm, while BDNF protein was measured using ELISA test. Voluntary exercise and/or EODF were instituted for 6 weeks. Voluntary exercise alone significantly enhanced short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term memory formation, and increased BDNF protein levels in the hippocampus. EODF enhanced mean running wheel activity by approximately twofold. However, EODF did not modulate the effects of exercise on memory formation and expression of BDNF. In addition, EODF alone had no effect on memory and BDNF protein in the hippocampus. In conclusion, results of this study indicate that exercise enhanced while EODF had neutral effect on both spatial memory formation and hippocampus BDNF levels. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.