Scientists from Donders Institute in Netherlands discovered that four hours of physical exercise can help memory retention.
The mission of such experiments is to link neurosciences with cognitive and behavioral analysis. Scientists hope that the results of the studies will contribute with new information in finding treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders.
In the study, one of the three groups of subjects managed to remember the learned information even in two days time after the memorization task.
However, no exercise or no pause between the learning task and the workout had little influence on memory retention.
The 72 participants had to complete a task that took 40 minutes. The test included 90 pictures of various places which needed to be memorized.
After the task, the subjects were separated into three groups. One group had to exercise immediately after the test, a second one was allowed a four-hour gap before the workout, and the third one did no physical activity whatsoever.
The best results were obtained by the group who took a pause between the test and the physical exercise. The group with no physical activity also had good results in the memory retention task. However, the group that had no gap between the learning activity and the physical activity had a low-performance level.
The scientists did not expect such low results in people who started the workout immediately after the memorization task. The hypothesis so far is that the already learned information blocked the formation of new memories.
“The brain processes new memories for a while after learning. Physical exercise is able to improve these post-learning processes,” said Guillen Fernandez, leading author of the study.
Physical activity releases nor-adrenaline and dopamine in the brain, which both have an enhancing effect on memory activities.
Researchers were curious to see if there is a direct connection between the presence of these substances in the brain and the capacity of memory retention. However, the results of the study tend to show there is no simple relation between the brain’s chemistry and a person’s learning ability.
Experts warned that, even though mild physical exercise can help memory tasks, any exaggeration could lead to opposite effects.
It remains to be seen if the 4 hours pause is the perfect timing or if there might be similar good performances when taking longer or shorter breaks. Scientists are convinced that physical activity can boost memory retention; however there are still small details which need to be further clarified.
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