Are you looking for a way to boost your memory?
According to researchers at the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, performing exercise four hours after finishing a task that involves forming new memories can improve the chances of retaining that information. If you’re inclined to go to the gym right after studying, you might want to wait a bit instead.
In a study published this month in the journal Current Biology, 72 test subjects were put into three groups:
- The first group exercised for 35 minutes on a stationary bike immediately after performing a memory task.
- The second group did the same exercise, only four hours later.
- The third group that performed no exercise at all.
The memory task involved studying 90 picture-location associations within 40 minutes. All three groups were tested on memory recall 48 hours later. Those who waited the four hours had a 10% increase in recall than the other groups. It seems that exercise may have a direct impact on memory performance and might alter how the brain stores memories.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to help researchers observe how test subjects’ brains responded to the same memory task two days later. Surprisingly, the MRI showed that those who exercised later on had more precise depictions in the hippocampus (a major component of the human brain where emotion and memory is located) when they answered a question correctly. The study indicates that no impact was made on memory when exercise was done immediately after a memory-dependent task.
The researchers acknowledge that more studies need to be done, specifically using groups of people who have similar fitness levels, because it’s possible that the fitness level of each participant could have impacted the results. Further studies also need to be done to determine if performing exercise at different times, say, two hours or eight hours after the memory task, will also have positive effects on memory recall.
Source for Today’s Article:
Van Dongen, E.V., et al., “Physical Exercise Performed Four Hours after Learning Improves Memory Retention and Increases Hippocampal Pattern Similarity during Retrieval,” Current Biology, 2016; doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.071.