Parkinson's disease (PD) is no longer primarily classified as a motor disorder due to increasing recognition of the impact on patients of several nonmotor PD symptoms, including cognitive dysfunction. These nonmotor symptoms are highly prevalent and greatly affect the quality of life of patients with PD, and so, therapeutic interventions to alleviate these symptoms are urgently needed. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential neuroprotective effects of voluntary running on cognitive dysfunction in an adeno-associated virus-alpha-synuclein rat model of PD. Bilateral intranigral administration of adeno-associated virus-alpha-synuclein was found to induce motor dysfunction and a significant loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons, neither of which were rescued by voluntary running. Overexpression of alpha-synuclein also resulted in significant impairment on hippocampal neurogenesis-dependent pattern separation, a cognitive task; this was rescued by voluntary running. This was substantiated by an effect of running on neurogenesis levels in the dorsal dentate gyrus, suggesting that the functional effects of running on pattern separation were mediated via increased neurogenesis. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.