Graduation Date

Spring 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Ethan Gahtan

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Carrie Aigner

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Justus Ortega

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Brain health, and the benefits of exercise have been linked to the biological signaling molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Animal and human studies have provided some support for physical exercise as a mechanism for increasing BDNF levels. However, results have been inconsistent, which may be attributed in part to incomplete information about normal variation in circulating peripheral BDNF levels. This investigation examined capillary-drawn whole blood samples from nine healthy adult participants over 30 days with the goal of documenting variability in resting BDNF levels and changes that may be attributed to physical exercise. It was hypothesized that BDNF concentrations would stay relatively consistent (overall coefficient of variance not exceeding 15%) and that physical exercise within 12 hours of blood sampling would increase BDNF levels. In contrast to these expectations, the current study showed high within-subject variability in resting BDNF levels across 30 days, and no association between recent physical exercise and BDNF levels. However, having a variability quantification is equally important for future methodology designs. While it remains unclear if there are valid cognitive benefits link to BDNF, understanding human BDNF variability can be of general utility as a benchmark for designing and interpreting future BDNF-related studies.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location