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To maximize cognitive benefits, study suggests you exercise brain and body at the same time

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Phys­i­cal and men­tal mul­ti­task­ing may boost mem­o­ry, study sug­gests (UCLA research alert):

Per­form­ing mem­o­ry train­ing exer­cis­es at the same time as ped­al­ing a sta­tion­ary bike led to bet­ter gains in mem­o­ry than doing the train­ing exer­cis­es after work­ing up a sweat, accord­ing to a 55-per­son study led by UCLA researchers. The find­ings sug­gest that exer­cise may tem­porar­i­ly make it eas­i­er for the brain to cre­ate new mem­o­ries

The researchers used stan­dard tests of mem­o­ry, learn­ing, con­cen­tra­tion and atten­tion to gauge the cog­ni­tive per­for­mance of 55 adults ages 60 through 75… Of the par­tic­i­pants, 29 were assigned to a “simul­ta­ne­ous” group that attend­ed twice-week­ly class­es where they received an hour of in-per­son mem­o­ry train­ing at the same time as they rode sta­tion­ary bikes. A “sequen­tial” group of 26 par­tic­i­pants also attend­ed twice-week­ly class­es but, unlike the first group, rode a bike for one hour before receiv­ing the same mem­o­ry train­ing as the oth­er group. In both groups, the mem­o­ry train­ing involved an instruc­tor teach­ing com­mon tech­niques to remem­ber infor­ma­tion.

After a four-week study peri­od, the researchers repeat­ed the cog­ni­tive tests on all par­tic­i­pants, and found that while every­one had improved in cer­tain abil­i­ties, peo­ple in the “simul­ta­ne­ous” group had greater improve­ments in a num­ber of mem­o­ry, rea­son­ing and atten­tion skills. In par­tic­u­lar, they scored bet­ter on tests mea­sur­ing how well they could rec­og­nize, remem­ber and retrieve words and geo­met­ric fig­ures.”

The Study:

Simul­ta­ne­ous Aer­o­bic Exer­cise and Mem­o­ry Train­ing Pro­gram in Old­er Adults with Sub­jec­tive Mem­o­ry Impair­ments (Jour­nal of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease). From the abstract:

  • Back­ground: Sev­er­al mod­i­fi­able lifestyle fac­tors have been shown to have poten­tial ben­e­fi­cial effects in slow­ing cog­ni­tive decline. Two such fac­tors that may affect cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and slow the pro­gres­sion of mem­o­ry loss into demen­tia in old­er adults are cog­ni­tive train­ing and phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. There are cur­rent­ly no effec­tive treat­ments for demen­tia; there­fore, pre­ven­ta­tive strate­gies to delay or pre­vent the onset of demen­tia are of crit­i­cal impor­tance.
  • Objec­tive: The aim of this study was to deter­mine the rel­a­tive effec­tive­ness of simul­ta­ne­ous per­for­mance of mem­o­ry train­ing and aer­o­bic exer­cise to a sequen­tial per­for­mance inter­ven­tion on mem­o­ry func­tion­ing in old­er adults.
  • Con­clu­sion: These find­ings indi­cate that a 4‑week simul­ta­ne­ous mem­o­ry train­ing and aer­o­bic exer­cise pro­gram is suf­fi­cient to improve mem­o­ry, atten­tion, and rea­son­ing abil­i­ties in old­er adults.

The Study in Context:

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2 Responses

  1. Per­haps this explains why actors typ­i­cal­ly pace to and fro and may beat a rhythm to the words when first learn­ing a new role.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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