The brain functions of several middle-aged and elderly people from north and northeastern Japan become more active after they spend a week in Okinawa in the winter, according to a study conducted by a Tohoku University research institute.

Blood flows in the brains of six of seven people — men and women between 53 and 78 years old — increased after they spent a week on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture sightseeing and experiencing such activities as learning to dance and cook, according to the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer.

The seven people, from Miyagi Prefecture and Hokkaido, took part in a tour to the island beginning Feb. 1. The average temperature in the island was around 20 C, while that in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, was 0 C.

The IDAC used a type of computed tomography scan to check the volume of blood in the brains of the participants before and after the trip.

It found increases in blood volume in the frontal and temporal lobes of the left part of the brain.

“I believe brain functions of the participants were activated because they spent more time doing activities outside,” said researcher Ryuta Kawashima. “Differences in the temperature between their home and the island were some 20 C and the time in which they could get sunlight was longer.”

The tour was part of a health campaign organized by the Japan Wellness Foundation, a body affiliated with the Health and Welfare Ministry.