Medial temporal lobe cortical changes in response to exercise interventions in people with early psychosis: A randomized controlled trial

Melissa L. Woodward, Jingxia Lin, Kristina M. Gicas, Wayne Su, Christy L.M. Hui, William G. Honer, Eric Y.H. Chen, Donna J. Lang (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Individuals with early psychosis may have prefrontal-limbic cortical deficits, which are associated with symptom severity and cognitive impairment. This study investigated the impact of an exercise intervention on fronto-temporal cortical plasticity in female participants with early psychosis. Methods: In a cohort of 51 female participants with early psychosis from Hong Kong, we investigated the effects of a 12-week, moderate intensity aerobic or Hatha yoga exercise trial (yoga (N = 21), aerobic (N = 18) or waitlist group (N = 12)) on cortical grey matter. Clinical assessments and structural MRI were completed pre- and post- a 12-week exercise intervention. Results: Increases in cortical volume and thickness were observed in the medial temporal cortical regions, primarily in fusiform cortical thickness (F(2, 48) = 4.221, p = 0.020, η2 = 0.150) and volume (F(2, 48) = 3.521, p = 0.037, η2 = 0.128) for participants with early psychosis in the aerobic arm, but not in the yoga and waitlist arms. Increased fusiform cortical thickness (ß = 0.402, p = 0.003) was associated with increased hippocampal volume for all psychosis participants. For the aerobic group only, increases in the entorhinal and fusiform temporal gyri were associated with reduced symptom severity. Conclusions: These findings suggest exercise-induced neuroplasticity in medial temporal cortical regions occurs with aerobic exercise. These changes may be associated with improvements in psychosis symptom severity. People with early psychosis may benefit from exercise interventions, particularly aerobic exercise, as an adjunct treatment to address clinical, physical health, and neuroanatomic concerns. NIH National Library of Medicine Registration #: NCT01207219

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Psychosis
  • Structural neuroimaging
  • Temporal cortex
  • Yoga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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