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A University of Arizona researcher is exploring the evolutionary link between exercise and development of the human brain.

Researchers have established the brain benefits from exercise during the aging process, said David Raichlen, who conducted a study on this link, and is a UA anthropologist.

"We became interested in whether there was some evolutionary explanation (and) why exercise might influence brain structure in this way," he explained.

Raichlen said the hunter-gatherer lifestyle led human ancestors to boost their athletic prowess about 1.8 million years ago. His research is looking at links between increases in aerobic activity and the ability of the brain to function into old age.

"Exercising can improve memory during foraging bouts, for instance, so there may be adaptive reasons for these links to exist," he said.

Raichlen is co-author of a published paper called Linking Brains and Brawn: Exercise and the Evolution of Human Neurobiology.