Posted on Jan 26, 2017, 6 a.m.
Do you want to remember something? Exercise 4 hours after you study it to boost long-term memory.
A recent study has shown that exercise can improve memory after learning, but only within a certain time frame: instead of heading to the gym immediately, exercise four hours after a learning session. Guillén Fernández of the Donders Institute at the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and Eelco van Dongen and their colleagues, analyzed how exercising at different times after learning affected memory. After learning 90 picture-location associations within 40 minutes, 72 participants were sorted into different groups. While one group exercised immediately after the learning session, the second group exercised four hours later, and the third did not exercise at all. The exercise session lasted 35 minutes, and 48 hours later, the participants returned to test their memory. Imaging their brains with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers discovered those who exercised four hours after learning remembered the information better after two days than anyone from the other two groups. In addition, those who exercised with a time delay also showed more explicit representations in the hippocampus when answering a question correctly. "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 researchers say.Though it is not clear as to how or why delayed exercising improves memory, Fernández says they will now study in greater detail the effects timing and molecular basis of exercise have on memory and learning.
Current Biology, van Dongen et al.: "Physical Exercise Performed Four Hours after Learning Improves Memory Retention and Increases Hippocampal Pattern Similarity during Retrieval" http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)30465-1 , DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.071