Exercise and memory: new research finds a sweet spot

Exercise and memory: new research finds a sweet spot

Physical Exercise Performed Four Hours after Learning Improves Memory Retention and Increases Hippocampal Pattern Similarity during Retrieval” was published in Current Biology on 7-11-16.  It made quite a splash in the popular media, as illustrated by an Article published by the New York Times, “To Boost Memory: Study, Wait, Then Exercise,” published on 7-28-16.

The authors of the study concluded:
•Performing aerobic exercise 4 hours after learning improved associative memory;
•Exercise at this time also increased hippocampal pattern similarity during retrieval;
•Exercise performed immediately after learning had no effect on memory retention;
•Exercise could have potential as a memory intervention in educational settings.
And, “Our results suggest that appropriately timed physical exercise can improve long-term memory and highlight the potential of exercise as an intervention in educational and clinical settings.”  The NYT article quotes one of the researchers: “Long-term membory is not onl influenced by what happens when you learn new things, but also by the processes that take place in the hours and days afterward.”  He theorizes that exercise may help “stabilize” new information and “integrate” it “into your brain.”

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